Trip Odometer: 16533km
Daily total: 423km

This morning was a later start as we had an engagement with the local school, and of course school starts a lot later than our normal departure times. Whilst we were standing around waiting for the briefing, I noticed the horn on the bike had come loose and was hanging in mid air. Somehow, the bolt was still hanging on for dear life, so it was an easy fix. Only problem is I dont have a shifter and my socket set was not suitable. Thankfully a fellow neighbour who lived just up the road from me when I was a Boondall had the tools for the job.

After departing from the Mataranka Homestead, we headed to Mataranka School. Unfortunately due the abuse of social media we were unable to take pictures, but the kids had a great time asking questions and looking at the bikes.

From Mataranka we rode onto Katherine for fuel, where we were free to make our own way into Darwin. By this point, I was getting pretty tired and was keen to just get to Darwin and have a rest, hence a lack of photos. I plan to steal some pics from others as they get posted to facebook! Four of us pushed onto the Adelaide River for fuel and a quick bite to eat. It wasn’t long before the other riders started rolling in, ad we rolled out!

Adelaide River to our camp is only about 100km, but the last 50km is through the greater region of Darwin so was a bit slow going. Eventually we rode into camp, and after setting up I shot off to the local bottle shop for a six pack of beer which was appreciated by the three of us campers that drink beer!

Trip Odometer: 16110km
Daily total: 588km

Tennant Creek was a 7.30 start for an 8am depature. After a can of Mother (in lieu of my normal coffee) and the driest toasted ham cheese sandwich I joined the group for a briefing.

From Tennant Creek it was Renner Springs for fuel and a quick drink

Next stop was Elliot, this was a fuel stop for the mainly for the cruisers.

And then Dunmarra for fuel for all. I did spot a Farrier F24 sailing triamaran out the back wrapped up in tarps. Odd place to find a sailing boat.

Daly Waters Highway Inn for a splash and dash and some shenanigans, then a few of us took a detour to the Daly Waters Pub. The plan was to eat lunch there, but the queue was a bit too long, so I passed up the chance. I had a good look around, and there is a shed over the road that has a couple of FX holdens and some old motorcycles, so I had to take a look!

After a quick look around, I left the group that went to the Daly Waters Pub and headed off to Mataranka Homestead where we were camping up for the night. The saving grace for Mataranka Homestead is the bar and the entertainment to some degree. The place is tired and dirty. The facilities are old, dirty and run down. Its clear the only reason this place makes money is due to the Mataranka Thermal Springs. The entertainment was ok, but the singer of the band clearly had a chip on his shoulder and was pretty grumpy. After the band, a local guy, Nathan Griggs did a show with whip cracking, which was actually pretty good.

There was a Black Dog Ride stand set up to sell Merchandise and they did pretty good. Despite me bagging the singer from the Repeat Offenders, he is doing great work for our Veterans and Suicide Prevention. He also gave the Black Dog Ride plenty of plugs.

Trip Odometer: 15522km
Daily total: 665km

This post comes a bit late. We have had some big days, and some big nights. As I write this, I am currently in Cairns, 2 nights after I was in Tennant Creek. I have lots of notes though, so I can remember in details what we have done! This post is also written as midnight closes in, so once again spelling and grammer comes at your own risk.

We had an early meeting at Mt Isa. Today we had the option to ‘free range ride’ given the distance from start to finish. This has several benefits, the main one being time to refuel and get going again. When 25 riders all roll into an outback road house with one or 2 pumps wanting fuel, there is a significant delay. It can take half an hour or more to get everyone refueled, then further time to get everyone with helmets on and ready to go. These delays add up during the day.

On the other hand, if eveyone departs as they please, there is usually still plenty of riders coming and going at each roadhouse, but they are seperated enough so the time between entering and leaving the roadhouse is a lot less.

I departed Mt Isa pretty early with 3 other riders. Our first fuel stop was Camooweal. In these areas, it pays to refuel even if you think you can make the next stop. Quite often you will arrive at a rouadhouse and they will be out of fuel or the bowser is not working etc. So a quick top up of the tanks at Camooweal and some food and water in our bellies we departed for the Barkley Homestead.

From Camoowheel, its not far till you cross the border into the Northern Territory.

And once into the Northern Territory you hit the 130kph speed limits on the Barkley Highway. Having never ridden long distance at these speed limits, it was a learning experience for me. The Triumph Explorer becomes a lot more thirsty at 130kph v the normal 100kph limits I am used to. I discovered that at a proper 130kph, that my fuel range dropped to about 260km v the normal 400kph that I am used to at 100kph. I was constantly checking fuel burn so I knew I would not run out of fuel, and for the 3rd time on this trip I really tested those limits. I rolled into the Barkely Homestead with 15km till empty showing on the trip computer. I know I have 2 litres of fuel left when the trip computer gives up and goes blank.

From Barkley Homestead to the Threeways is not as far, so fuel was no issue and I made the most of the 130kph speed limit. At ther intersection of the Barkley and Stuart Highway, we went straight to Tennant Creek where we were camping. We rolled in nice and early at around 2pm and set up camp. I was planning on having a sleep, but ran out of time before everyone else turned up.

The locals Lions club had organised a Trivia Night at the Tennant Creek Memorial Club that night. The locals all paid for a 2 course dinner and trivia night, and the Black Dog Riders spread out and each sat down at a table with the locals. It turned out to be a great night, and a good fundraiser. I spent the night with a local police officer and a lady who ran the local woman’s shelter. We didn’t win the trivia comp, but we did get to be part of a fundraiser that raised nearly $5000 for the Black Dog Ride, of which 100% will go back into local communities.

Trip Odometer: 14857km
Daily total: 511km

Today we met up with the Brisbane Black Dog riders at the end of their trip. One of the local shops put on a breakfast deal for all the riders. After a photo and briefing it was time to head out.

Not a lot of stops today. The first fuel stop was the Burke and Wills Roadhouse, about 200km’s. The decision was made to stop somewhere about halfway to stretch the legs and have a drink. We had a good break at the Roadhouse which became the lunch stop also.

More mile eating. Next fuel stop was Cloncurry. We also had a break about halfway.

Then a refuel at Cloncurry before the last 110kms into Mt Isa. One of the local police we met at Burke and Wills Roadhouse was heading back to Mount Isa, and we ran into them again at Cloncurry.

We arrived in Mt Isa nice and early. The owners of the campground got a fire going for us which is proving to be real nice in the cold central Australian nights, and where I am seated writing this.

Tomorrow is more mile eating, but we do have an engagement in Tennant Creek. We will also be meeting up with the Darwin Black Dog Riders.

Trip Odometer: 14346km
Daily total: 697km

This morning we split up into 2 groups again. The first group departed to the north to go via the less twisty range via Kuranda, whilst the second group rode the Gillies range. For anyone who has spend some time riding in the Atherton tablelands, then you will know that the Gillies range provides some of the best riding one will experience. Needless to say, I went the second group because I love Gillies range.

We took a quick rest stop in Ravenshoe to wish our Coral Coast Black Dog Ride leader farewell.

Then we departed for Normanton. Our first stop was at Mt Garnet where we planned to catch up with the other group and rejoin. Whilst we were waiting, a trio of horses just randomly walked down the main street! Turns out they had escaped a paddock that was left open. The decided to feast on the green grass right next to the servo. The local police turned up, and then the owners not long after.

A quick fuel and food stop at Mt Surprise. The Savannahlander was in town.

And another stop at Georgetown, where the campers departed ahead of the group so we could make Normanton before the sunset. We stopped at Croyden to top up the tanks.

Then the plan was to stop about 80km’s up the road (halfway to Normanton) for a quick rest stop. I spotted the Black Bull Siding, which former railway station on the line to Normanton.

A quick 5 minute break and we then made our way onto Normanton. We arrived a well before sunset, but still later than I would have preferred. There was a few small grey kangaroos around, but none tangled with us.

Trip Odometer: 13649km
Daily total: 48km

Not much happened today. I took the bike in for a service as soon as the shop opened. The estimate was for 3 hours of labor due to the fact the tank has to be removed, which is a pain in the proverbial on my bike. I decided to use this time to have breakfast and take a look at the esplanade at Cairns.

After a bite to eat, I walked to the marina to check out the boats. There was actually not a lot there, although I did manage to capture a look at the super yacht that crashed into the dock. Pretty minor damage, but it has some solid gouges up the port side.

I could feel the sun beaming down on me, and I left my sunnies back at camp and the sunscreen was still with the bike, so I opted to head back to the mechanics so I didn’t end up looking like on of those British tourists. I picked up some velcro on the way so I could attempt to make a dodgy repair to the cuffs on my riding jacket. I certainly wont get a job as a tailor, but its good enough to get the job done. I spent the rest of the afternoon stitching up the cuffs and doing some washing.

The campers all made the call to buy some food that we could cook up on the camp kitchen barbeques. The even was spent sitting in the camp kitchen cooking and talking whilst having a few cleansing ales.

Tomorrow, is not a huge distance to cover, but due to the roads it will be a big day. So it was an early night for me.

Trip Odometer: 13601km
Daily total: 370km

Today started with a 25km ride to our briefing, which was at Rising Sun Honda who also provided breakfast. Rising Sun Honda is also an Indian dealer, who are sponsors of the Black Dog Ride.

From there we headed to Inghams, where the local Woolies provided morning tea for us yet again. I have to get credit to the awesome people at the various stores we have visited. They provide heaps of food, with a lot going into the support vans so we can have something on the road. They also stock us up with water. Given a lot of people visit the local Woolies stores, it becomes a great place to talk to the public, with plenty of people interested to see what the Black Dog Ride is all about.

We then rode onto Cardwell where we picked up a few of the Cairns Black Dog Riders who then provided us an escort into our camp at Cairns.

A fuel stop just out of Innisfail, where we had to wait for a couple of riders to catch up. Someone lost a bag of the back, which collected another rider. No injury or damage done thankfully, but combined with horrible drivers on the Bruce Highway it meant we were all getting a bit edgy. Thankfully tomorrow is a rest day, so we can all relax.

We rolled into Cairns quite early for a change. The local van park sells beers, so a six pack was purchased and a beer or 2 was consumed whilst setting up camp.

The van park also has a restaurant, so a few of us decided to sit down and have a meal. Unfortunately, I had to be up early to get the bike serviced, so no big night on the booze for me.

Trip Odometer: 13231km
Daily total: 427km

Today’s ride was pretty straight forward. Up the Bruce Highway from Mackay to Townsville. Cant be too hard right? Well the crazy drivers on the Bruce prove otherwise yet again. The crazy overtaking can get quite dangerous, and some are just not aware of what is going on around them. Thankfully, nothing went wrong though.

Today’s start was a little later, but us campers have to get up a couple of hours before hand to pack up. Well some of us don’t have too, the bonus of camping in a swag is you roll it up and you’re ready to rock and roll. Lets not talk about rain and frost though!

When we rocked up to camp the previous night, the lovely couple in the van behind us came out to see what all the racket was about. They had a light to help us set up, lent us a power board so we could all charge our devices and even made a $100 donation. The lady in the motorhome next to us was also lovely, and she made a donations as well. There was also plenty of well wishes and friendly chat from others.

We left camp and rode back to the hotel where everyone else was staying. The brief once again pushed the safety aspect, but I feel its not quite sinking in with some. We also wished Ken a happy 70th Birthday (they guy who booked the campsite last night that we all hijacked!).

Our next stop was at Proserpine. The local Woolworths had received late notice about us passing thought, so made plans to meet us at our scheduled fuel stop in lieu of a formal engagement. Given the fuel stop was across the road from the local Woolworths, I am sure it would not have been a problem, but it was still great to see the local Woolies gang get in and support the Black Dog Ride. As an added bonus, when they heard that it was Kens Birthday, they raced back to the store, grabbed a cakc and some candles. What an awesome bunch of people!

From Proserpine we headed to Guthalungra for fuel and a quick lunch stop. Looks like the Southerners are starting to struggle with the lovely North Queensland warmth. Everyone is hiding in any shade they can find. Its not even hot yet!

Our next stop was Woolies North Shore (Townsville), for yet another feed and chat with the locals. Once again, another fantastic feed.

After filling up, it was just a short ride to camp. The sun was still in the sky whilst setting up which was very pleasant.

Trip Odometer: 12804km
Daily total: 754km

Today was all about eating up the miles, so not a lot of photo’s.

We started out with a 7am brief. Our fearless leader has lost his voice, so an interpreter was employed to do the speaking. The brief today included a lot of safety information and review of what is going wrong and how we can do things better. Given the long distance and the fact we are traversing the Bruce highway, the group was split into 2, with the second group departing 45mins after the first. I put my hand up to become tail end charlie for the day.

Hervey Bay briefing

On the road our first fuel stop was at Mirriamvale. This was also a quick breakfast stop.

Our next main stop was at Rockhampton, although we did make a couple of short stops along the way. We then made our way further north with a quick stop just out of Clairview.

Then it was onto Sarina to pick up a couple of the Mackay one day riders for an escort into their territory. We arrived in Mackay just on dark. The info we had said there is camping at the Coral Sands Motel, but alas this was not the case. Fortunately on of our wiser riders had already made a phone call and booked a spot at the local Big 4 campground. Just enough room to squeeze us all in.

The Mackay Black Dog riders organised a dinner for us. Thanks to the local Rotary club as well as the local football club, we were all well fed.

The only bad thing about the day was a couple of idiots dangerously overtaking (part of the reason we split into 2 groups) and my brand new 2 day old Sena Bluetooth headset failing. I have emailed Sena, hopefully they will come through with a solution before Cairns.

Trip Odometer: 12050km
Daily total: 295km

One of the challenges I set myself on this journey was to spend the full trip sleeping in the swag. That would equate to about 37 nights in total. I busted that challenge last night during my detour to Brisbane for repairs. I got to spend a night in my own bed. It was nice! I also got a photo of Leo (our rescue dog) with his favourite toy, a Winston! When we first met Leo, he picked the Winston out up off a low side table and its been his favourite toy ever since. Unfortunately, Winston is looking a little worse for wear these days!

After a successful day of repairs yesterday. I headed out to Dave Olivers motorcycle tyres early this morning. Dave opened up his shop early for me to get me in before his other bookings and to get me going. A fresh tyre and some good advice on why the old tyre failed prematurely (it was low pressure, as I and others suspected). There is a reason people are turning away from the big dealers to the smaller guys like Dave Oliver and Suspension Improvements, and its all because of the service and how these people go out of there way to help you.

Once the tyre was fitted, I went back home to reload the bike. Dropping into home for the night allowed me too offload a lot of unnecessary gear that I was carrying. I tuned into a couple of satellite trackers carried by other riders to see where they were at, and then headed to an highway on ramp so I could intercept the ride again. I pulled up on the Boondall on ramp and as I started to reload the tracks and the riders started going past!

A quick stop at Caboolture for fuel, then onto Aussie World for lunch. Another stop for fuel at Gympie then we pushed on to Hervey Bay. The caravan park was fully booked, by the lady said we could camp right up the back on a very narrow strip of lawn. IT was the perfect size for a swag. Best of all, she only only charged the 3 of us that were camped together $10!