Off to Dubbo

Up at 5am as the sun seemed to appear about then. Threw down a coffee and a sort of muesli yogurt mix which made me gag as there wasn’t enough milk left to soften it up. Either that or my throat was constricted due to the nerves. I quickly grabbed the bottle of orange juice and threw that down. There was no way I was going to die gagging on muesli. If I had the choice on death it would definitely be a plough-in hit on a kangaroo at 150ks per hour, but definitely not gagging on Aussie muesli!

After that “near death” experience I loaded up the bike. Checked the fuel and tyres then followed the instructions on the GPS.

The route was north first up the Pacific Highway towards Brisbane, then the M6 motorway to Ipswich. It was still fairly early in the day and there wasn’t any sign of a build up of morning peak hour traffic. The bike felt good and I was 100% focused. There is really no problem with having the “nerves” so long as you apply them for their intended use. Australian HighwayAt one point about an hour down the track I did feel a bit queasy but put that down to the coffee – muesli-yogurt-orange juice mix back at the hotel.
At last I was on the Cunningham Highway travelling south then on to the Newell Highway. The sun was truly up by now and the ambient temperature rising. The countryside was becoming truly “Aussie”. It seemed to me that the farms had been through a considerable period of drought. In recent days there had been some rain as the land was greening up but there was no proper growth to the grass. The stock numbers were light. The farmers must have destocked some time back and only left the acre to the bull rather than the number of bulls to the acre.  As far as the eye could see there were only six to a dozen cattle beasts in any particular valley or on any hill-side.  The obligatory windmill next to a water trough could also be spotted.

There was the odd farm house and barn here and there. I steamed into Warwick then Inglewood and onto Goondiwindi. From Goondiwindi it was almost due south into Moree and down to Coonabarabran on the Newell Highway. That was all I had planned for today’s ride and it was late afternoon.

I essentially had three fundamental rules when it came to this adventure.
Rule number one: no riding at dawn, dusk or at night.
Rule two: no riding in the rain.
Rule number three was: thou shalt not ride off-tarmac i.e. on the dirt. 

Not Bible quotes, but what I thought was a bit of human wisdom. I managed to break two of the three in the next hour then the third the following day when the GPS told me to turn left onto a dirt road. I pulled into a BP station to fill up and it dawned on me that I wasn’t that far off Dubbo. Dubbo was not on the route to Adelaide at all and in fact was slightly out of the way. Why would I be interested in Dubbo?  All of a sudden it came flashing back to me. Must have been the petrol fumes. My brother and I were watching Aussie TV over at the farm one morning years ago and I remember seeing some extreme temperature on the news bulletin and made the comment to Paul “ I wouldn’t mind going to Dubbo one day to see what the place is like”. He said, “yeah, strange name ‘Dubbo’ who the heck would call a place Dubbo, let alone live in a place called Dubbo?” We wondered for days who would call the place Dubbo and who would live there. May be it was just Abbo as in “Aborigine” miss-spelt.

At the Coonabarabran BP petrol station I asked the bloke on the other side of the counter how long it would take to get to Dubbo. As I completed the question a huge bloke came in with a gut that covered half his shorts, I’d spotted him a minute back climbing down from a big-rig. He shouted  “about an hour and half mate”. I thought this roadie would have just as much if not more road knowledge than the bloke over the counter so I asked him what the road was like and about the roos, wombats and goats. I was concerned that it was almost dusk and that was when these beasts came out for dinner and hopped all over the highway.

Rule number one was about to be broken.  The big roadie said “go for it mate, no worries”. Another truckie yelled out “yeah, give it a go mate you’ll be right”. It was ok for these guys as they drove huge road-trains with roo-bars an inch thick on the front. They would only feel a thump if they ploughed into one, I’d be spread in pieces down the Newell Highway. Dusty roadThe bloke over the counter didn’t think much of the idea, particularly on a bike. He however wished me the best of luck and looked at me as if that was the last time he would ever see me.  Well, probably would be anyway.
Stuff the bloke at the counter I said to myself. Hopped on the bike and yelled at the bloke with the gut “ which way to Dubbo mate?” He gave me a list of directions which immediately confused me. After five minutes worth of directions I asked “then I guess mate, I hang a right here and basically head south?”. “Yeah mate” he said, “basically go right here and keep the sun on your right”. I headed off. Once out of sight I pulled over under a tree and set my familiar friend the GPS.

I had my eyes peeled looking for roos. What chance I’d have stopping in time for one I didn’t know. I then was trying to figure out what the best point of impact would be in order to survive. I never did work it out properly, but I thought if I could pull a wheelie a split second before impact I’d be able to smack it with both wheels and let the back wheel ride over it as the front settled back onto the tarmac. Sort of like a jumbo jet with the four wheel cluster making contact with the runway, back two wheels first. 

I then broke rule number two. No riding in the rain. Sitting just before the town of Dubbo was a lonely lump of cloud. As I got closer to it, it appeared to jettison forked lightening from the middle straight to earth. “Don’t worry about the roos anymore mate” I said to myself, “I’m going to be hit by lightening. I’m the only tall thing around here.” I thought about pulling over and lying low but then again a snake might get me or the bloke with the big gut might run over me. Getting too tired to worry about the thing I blasted toward the cloud. It then let loose, “just like an hour after a strong curry mixed with baked-beans”, I thought. Man did it come down. The rain splattered horizontally against my helmet. Not that it was windy, but at 130kmh it comes in horizontally.

Breaking rule number two was one of the most pleasant parts of the trip. The temperature dropped from 39.5c down to 17.0c in five minutes. I got soaked. It was most refreshing. The only uncomfortable thing was the tide slowly rising in my boots. I’d tucked the riding pants inside the boots and they made a natural channel for the water.

Coming into Dubbo seemed like riding into Vegas. Bright lights and cars all over the place. This was Dubbo, the strangely named town in outback Aussie. I rode on through and spotted a road that appeared to have takeaway shops on one side and motels on the other. Great combination. I could feed myself on one side of the road and kip on the other.

I saw a motel that looked pretty vacant and pulled in. Hopped off and trudged into the reception water splashing out of the boots at every step. Booked in and wandered on up to the room only to find a whole cricket team had occupied nearly every room apart from mine. The place looked near vacant as the two buses carrying these guys were parked opposite the neighbouring motel and only a couple of cars were in the car park. Too late, I had booked in. I was invited to share a beer with the cricket team and supporters but declined. Instead, made one weighty decision as to which of the takeaway restaurants I would offer my patronage. KFC, Red Rooster, McDonalds, Pizza Hutt, Two Chinese, one Thai and one unidentified. Nobody was in the “unidentified” so I guessed it wasn’t much good. I headed for the Red Rooster and threw down some dead-chook and fries then washed it back with a Coke. Wandered back across the road and headed for the old scratcher.