Trip Odometer: 21384km
Daily total: 256km

Around Australia Total: 16984km

This is it, the last official day of the Black Dog Ride Around Australia 2019. At this point, I am not sure what to say or think. I dare say I probably wont really process the whole event until a few week after I get home. Today I think is the shortest ride in distance, but probably the hardest ride mentally and emotionally.

We started gathering for an 8.30am brief with plans to depart at 9:00am.

Our 2IC, John Benham getting ready for the last briefing

Some local WA riders met up with us to lead us out toward Busselton. I opted not to dress up in my wet weather gear, thinking we would make it to the first rest stop before the forecast rain would arrive. How wrong I was. At least I zipped up the air vents in my jacket, or so I thought until I started feeling wet on my right side. I left one vent open.

Arriving at the fuel stop (Caltex Foodary, Forest Highway) I used a towel to dry myself off as much as possible, then pulled the wet weather gear out of the panniers. We had a bit of time here thankfully, and the free coffee for the BDR was very welcoming!

Our next stop was in Bunbury. We had a bit of time here, and I should probably have fueled up either here or at the Caltex. I didn’t really think about it, and did not notice how low in fuel I was in Busselton. A fair few of us headed to the cafe that was located on the beach. Its not a bad spot here, I recommend it! Our scheduled departure was 2.30pm, and we were waiting for the planned police escort from Bunbury to our finish point in Busselton. WA Pol tuned up early, and with lots of eager riders we eventually rode out about 15 minutes early.

After a somewhat rainy trip, we finally arrive in Busselton.

We eventually moved onto our campground for the night. Back to the Big 4 Beachlands who let us camp free of charge. They stepped up the game today and provided me with a swag upgrade:

It was a shitty day with rain and wind, and getting real bed instead of having to set up the swag with a fly sheet was just the nicest end to the trip.

We had a free bus to the local pub, and a free dinner. I had planned to have quite a few beers, but after 3 I headed back to my new swag and went to bed!

Different map today, my satellite tracker map!

Trip Odometer: 21128km
Daily total: 424km

As the end draws near, the fatigue is also growing along with the excitement of completing the ride. Today’s ride was another short one as we head toward the finish line. I made sure I got a few photo’s of Winston with the local Northampton celebrities.

We departed Northampton at 9am, back to riding in formation. Today’s ride was planned by WA Rider Ken, and the most pupular (pun intended) pillion, Chloe. Ken was also going to lead the ride today.

The first fuel stop of the day was Dongara. Most of us fueled up the night before, so we pulled over to wait for the rest of the group to top off their tanks.

From Dongara, it was an very nice cruise up to Jurian Bay via the coastal roads. Its been a while since I have been on this road, and first time I have done it on a motorcycle. Caravans aside, it was a very pleasant ride. We fueled up at Jurian Bay and regathered for the ride to our much awaited surprise of the day, a visit to a private collection of Vincent motorcycles. This would have to come close to being the largest collection of Vincent’s in the world. Unfortunately, the power was out, so the lack of lighting meant photo’s were difficult to take.

If you consider the last auction price of one of these bikes, Winston is sitting on the fender of a AUD$1,000,000+ bike here:

Neerabup was the next fuel stop. As we approached Perth, we had to readjust to traffic and complex roads again. Add in fatigue and this can be a dangerous thing. I was following Ken, when I took a quick look at the GPS only to look up and see Ken hard on the brakes pulling into a petrol station. I quickly took a hard right and went around him, missing the entrance to the petrol station and also my role as a corner marker to direct people in. As a result, a few riders missed the turn, but none went to to far before realising thankfully.

At this point, taking photo’s was not even in my thought process. We rode on to our camp at Swan Valley. Discovery Parks at Swan Valley hosted us at no charge. The campers could have had free cabins but we opted to continue our camping challenge, and so I rolled out the swag for the last night before the official ride was completed.

Trip Odometer: 20645km
Daily total: 424km

I handed the ride lead over today, much to my relief because I wanted to slow down a bit and be able to stop and take a few photo’s. As it turned out, I think I only stopped for one in the end anyway.

It was only a short ride today, departure from Carnarvon was slated for 9:30am, with stops in Wooramel and Billabong. I rode out with the first half dozen riders, but sat toward the back of the pack doing slightly under the speed limit so I could get some distance. I wanted to slow down and enjoy the scenery. This is a pretty boring stretch, so not much to see unfortunately. There is one lookout that is worth stopping at, where you get a view of the ocean and some interesting man made rock formations

I opted to skip Wooramel for fuel, instead choosing the Overland Roadhouse so I would only need one stop. I was going to grab something to eat here until I stopped and saw what was on offer. It looked like Pardoo, so I chose to wait this time.

From Overland, I rode straight to Northhampton. Even though I was not ride leader today, I still arrived ahead of everyone else. Most people ahead of me stopped for lunch at the Billabong Roadhouse, I waved as I went past!

After refueling at Northhampton for the next day, I found a nice cafe for lunch. The Shearing Shed Cafe comes highly recommended.

The main problem we had in Northampton was the fact that the local caravan park had been closed, leaving us with a choice to camp at Horrocks or Geraldton or find a free roadside camp. There was cheap accomdation at the old convent in town, but a few of us were pretty steadfast about camping. Dave managed to strike an offer with the Convent to let us camp out the back for $10 each, so we took that option.

The place turned out to be quite interesting. It was fairly old, old enough that the church still had its entrance adorned with latin. I could read some of it, but most of the latin I learnt in school is well gone.

Trip Odometer: 20221km
Daily total: 666km

Whilst sleeping in a swag can sometimes be a pain in the arse, it also has its upsides. Its easy to set up, its easy to put away. And sometimes, you wake up to some awesome skies.

I have had better during this trip, including some awesome Meteor showers. None are easy to capture on Camera.

Today was a later start, so after packing up camp a couple of us went to the local McDonalds for a coffee. It was here we met a lady who had been trying to catch the Black Dog Riders for a couple of years. She gave us a donation and told us how her son had taken his own life. Whilst there has been a lot of great moments on this trip, there is also moments like this that leave you ‘lost’ with a lump in your throat. Nonetheless, its part of the reason I am doing this ride.

We left McDonalds to head back to the briefing location. After the brief, we took off for the first fuel stop which was only 100km up the road at Fortescue River. I could have made it to the next fuel stop but all the riding around I did in Karratha I thought it would better to be safe than sorry. Not much time was spent here, fuel in, ride out.

Nanutarra was the next roadhouse.

I had planned to fuel up and keep going, but a couple of the other riders wanted a bite to eat, so we grabbed some food and rode the bikes to a shady spot. Turned out to be a good thing as the Ducatti was trying to rattle itself to death.

A quick repair and we headed out for Minilya Bridge Roadhouse. Somewhere along this section I also clicked over 20000km on this trip.

We ran into a bunch of WA Variety bash cars here. I was to busy looking and forgot to take any photo’s of the cars. One redbull and one sandwich later, the last 150km’s were started. A quick fuel stop to top up for the morning and we pulled into camp. After offloading the camping gear, I headed off with another rider toward the waters edge for a look. Carnarvon reminds me of what Shorncliffe used to be like back in the day. Its a bigger town, more remote, but has the same feel.

On the way back, we grabbed a carton of beer. This was well received by everyone. The couple of times we have done this, half of the carton ends up being hidden in the support vehicles disguised as highly important equipment for the campers (such as a case of hydrolytes), however this wont be required tomorrow!

The caravan park provided us with roast beef and gravy rolls for dinner. A good night was had by all, and with only just over 400km to ride tomorrow we can all enjoy a sleep in as well as a chance to to have our tents and swags dry (from dew) before we head off.

Trip Odometer: 19555km
Daily total: 903km

Leaving Broome, a good 30 local riders joined us for the ride out to the Roebuck Roadhouse. From there I promptly topped up my fuel tank, handed the bowser to the rider next to me, then disappeared for the 300km trip to Sandfire! With 800+km to cover today, I was pretty keen to get on with it.

I arrived at Sandfire for another quick fuel stop. I was in and out in just a few minutes. This place is interesting, and I would have liked to have a bit more of a look around, but I also did not want to arrive in Karratha after dark.

Next place for fuel was Pardoo Roadhouse. I was starting to get hungy here, so decided to by a sausage roll and a sandwich. Warning: NEVER EAT HERE, EVER. Worst roadhouse I have ever been too. I have since been told by many others to avoid this place as it has fallen into disrepair since the new owners took over. The toilet was on par with the food also.

From Pardoo, it was on to Port Headland for the next fuel. I should have eaten here, the food looked way better than the crap I ended up throwing away.

From Port Headland you pass Whim Creek, then Roeburn. I did not stop at either place, but both look like they might require a return trip for further investigation!

Finally I arrived at the campground at Karratha. Its an interesting town clearly cashed up on the iron ore in the area. The drivers are mad, the town is red, and despite not being a place I would live its certainly worth a look visit. There is lots of history here.

I wanted to fuel up for the morning, so decided to ride out to Dampier and fill up along the way. On the way back, I passed a bunch of food trucks. The smell was too good, so we went back later that night for dinner. Turns out the trucks had been on the road for 5 months across the top end and as far into Queensland as Mt Isa. The Ribs were fantastic.

Trip Odometer: 18652km
Daily total: 42km

Today was a rest day, but the Black Dog Ride and Kimberly Mental Health and Drug Service had a shared stall at the local Broome Markets. Those who were not tied up with maintenance jobs brought the bikes down for a display. We also manned the stall to ‘Start a Conversation’ as well as to try and sell some merchandise. They day was very successful.

The stall ran till 12pm, then we had the rest of the day to relax. I rode around Broome to check out the local beaches. The red sand meeting the blue water provides an wicked contrast, and still amazes me everytime I see it.

After riding around for a while, I opted to refuel the bike, then head back to the caravan park to offload the bike and go for a beer. Walking down the beach, we discovered a touch footy comp, which also had a beer tent. It was decided to hang around and watch a few games whilst tasting the local Broome Brewery beers. It turned out to be an excellent afternoon, with some fierce competition on the beach.

Once the touched competition was up, we moved to the bar at the top of the beach for the sunset.

Dinner was had at the Divers Bar, then a 6 pack was purchased and we headed back to the caravan park to chat with some locals. The half rest day turned out to be pretty good. Tomorrow’s start is an 800+km ride, so I wanted to go to bed early, which of course did not happen as usual!

Trip Odometer: 18610km
Daily total: 403km

Today was not a long ride, but a ride where I was leading so no time to stop and take photo’s again, and a short post yet again.

We departed Fitzroy Crossing a bit earlier than planned. Everyone was keen to ride rather than sit around pondering what was going on with rider who was in hospital. So we had a quick brief, and hopped on the bikes and took off.

First fuel stop was at Willare Road House. I planned to have some breakfast here, but when looking at the food options I opted to just refuel and ride on.

From the Willare Road House, the next stop was Cable Beach at Broome. Pretty straight forward ride. We rocked up, set up camp. Total riding time about 4 hours.

We had a good half day to ourselves on arrival. Most of us opted to do nothing. The Kimberly Mental Health and Drug Service and Broome Rotary cooked us dinner tonight. The RAC Cable Beach Holiday Park manager also shouted us a carton of beverages, which was well received after a the last few days of riding.

Trip Odometer: 18207km
Daily total: 654km

The next few days are once again mile eating as we make our way to Broome, so not a lot of pics. Its especially hard to take photo’s when you are the lead rider as well.

This morning started with breakfast at the Tuckerbox Cafe in Kunanurra. We also got a sneak peak at the local pub who’s owner has quite a collection of vintage motorcycles. At the briefing, the Tuckerbox presented us with 50% of there morning takings, which equated to $300.

I was awarded the position of lead ride, and Dave and I departed at 8:15. The rules today were to stay between the lead rider and tail end charlie, which meant I had to keep ahead of the pack. After almost missing the turn off toward Broome, our first fuel stop was Warmun.

Next fuel stop was Halls Creek, where we snuck in a very quick bite to eat, so I could keep going to keep ahead of the riders who were keen to get into camps early. This town left me confused, so many nice people, yet so many issues. I met a nice lady here and had a good chat about the local issues with Aboriginal mental health and problems in the town. She took one of the Black Dog Ride cards and said she was going to get her cousin to promote it on the local indigenous radio station.

From there it was 300km to Fitzroy Crossing, which mean taking it easy on the throttle to get the distance. At 110kph (WA speed limit) that equates to about 350km per tank of fuel, so no issues there.

We set up camp at the Fitzroy River Lodge. They have not had a lot of rain here for quite a while, so it was pretty dusty. To add insult to injury, some animal took a piss on my swag, which thankfully was zipped up closed at the time. Plenty of paper towel and water and it was all good.

Unfortunately, we got the news that a rider had gone down. Thankfully, injuries were minimal, although the bike is probably a write off. Its a shame it happened so close to the end of the ride.

Trip Odometer: 17553km
Daily total: 857km

The biggest day of the trip turned out to be the easiest day so far. I rode solo today, so no stress. The morning started off by signing on at 6am, and then I departed for a McDonalds at Palmerston for muffin and coffee to wait for the sun to rise and the skippies to hide. I hung around Macca’s till about 7:15, then headed to a local servo to add some air to the tyres. Was perfect timing to catch the sun coming over the trees

By the time I got going, the sun was well in the sky, and given the half hour or so ride out of the greater Darwin area the shadows were not as long. Perfect time to hit the open road.

To head west, we needed to back track about 300km back down the Stuart Highway to Katherine. My first fuel stop was at Adelaide River. I could have easy made Katherine, but the bike gets a bit thirsty doing the 130kph NT speed limits and better safe than sorry. Onto Katherine it was quick splash and dash. I caught up with quite a few of the other riders that left earlier. I left them chatting and rode on. This time I was a bit conservative on the speed, travelling under the posted speed limit to try and conserve fuel. I forgot that fuel was available before Timber Creek, so I was aiming for 300+km range. When I spotted the sign for Victoria Creek, I picked up the pace again! A quick fuel top up at Victoria River an it was onward to Timber Creek.

From Timber Creek the next stop was going to be WA Border for quarantine. The Vic River also runs though here. Its quite a sight seeing so much water in what looks like real desert country.

And of course, one has to take the photo at the Border.

Dinner was provided by the Kimberly Suicide Prevention Network and cooked by the local Rotary Club. We also had a guest speaker who gave us some insight in the indigenous suicide rate (13 times the national average for the Kimberly region) and how they are slowly reversing that trend. We also enjoyed the company of some of the local Miriwoong people.

Trip Odometer: 16696km
Daily total: 163km

Today was truly a rest day. I slept in till about 7am, and it was only the traffic noise that woke me. On my rest days, I set up the fly sheet to keep the sun off the swag. This means I can lie down during the day out of the sun and without zipping my self into the swag. This turned out to be beneficial as it rained overnight. Once the rain passed, it cooled down a lot. I ended up in the sleeping bag; who would have thought this would happen in Darwin?

After wasting plenty of time talking to people around the park, I decided to head into the city for a look. I forgot how much I like Darwin, its a very pretty city. Nice to visit, but the heat is a bit to extreme for me to consider spending any significant amount of time here.

We did have one engagement today, and that was at Palmerston Golf Club. They held a fundraiser for the Black Dog Ride which in itself is a bit of a story. In the end, 3 years in the making they raised a good amount of money, and presented is with a $6000 cheque. There was some media in attendance, so hopefully once that is available on the internet I will be able to post it back here.

I also took time to visit the Howard Springs Tavern, which is owned by the same family that owns my local pub that sponsored me, the Full Moon Hotel. Unfortunately, both the family members I know were not in Darwin at the time, so I will have to catch them when they are in Brisbane next time.

Tomorrow is the biggest day of the ride, about 830km’s. It freedom riding, but our departure time has to be between 6am and 7am. A bet early for my liking, but the first hour of the ride is more or less within the Greater Darwin area so there is almost no risk of wildlife strikes. From there onwards, the sun is high enough in the sky and the shadows on the road are short, so any skippies will be well and truly visible.