Our riding day is determined by a thousand trillion outback flies. We get up before sunrise, pack, eat and hit the road before they wake. We swat and curse them during the day, often eating indoors or on the run to avoid them. We ride till dusk as it is impossible to make a camp with them still around (they disappear miraculously at sunset).
Our trip is timed around flies. WTF?This means we are on the road by 7.00 leaving Betoota (population still zero). We attacked the road with the gusto borne from the previous day, bouncing across rocks, sand and wheel ruts.
This didn’t make the road a push over though. Our bikes slid all over the place with golf ball sized rocks thrown up by wheels clanging off their engines.
A huge mural of an aboriginal Dreamtime Serpent made from red, white and black rocks dominated the side of a tall hill. We wondered who made it and why, and thought of Jack the aboriginal elder we met at the petrol station in Bourke. We were on the edge of his Country.
The sand turned deeper red as we skirted the northern edge of the Strezleki Desert and headed towards the Simpson Desert and our goal, the famous outback town of Birdsville. Enormous red sand dunes started to appear and the track became sandier which had the bikes sliding all over the road.
One thing we didn’t miss was the huge number of kangaroos we’d encountered so far. The few we saw had red coats like the sand around them, as opposed to the southern greys we’d seen so far.
The landscape fluctuated from flat barren grass lands to high sand dunes. The road in parts was coved in deep gravel and ruts which shook both bikes and riders. Several 4WDs and the occasional truck coated us in their dust as they went past at 100km/h as we ground along at 40 at best.
After 166km of this we finally hit Birdsville! Needless to say the last 10km was the worst and Richard nearly dropped the beema after sliding through some particularly deep sand – eek!
After the obligatory ‘we made it to Birdsville’ photos we headed into the famous Birdsville Hotel (pub). The walls and ceilings are covered in memorabilia from countless locals, sports events, horse races and people washing through the town. The beaten up akubras (stockman’s or cowboy’s hat) from local farmers who had passed away hung from the ceiling in their memory. The most fitting memorial possible in a hallowed place. We got a couple of beers ($17) and talked to the publicans one of whom was a kiwi. They are everywhere!
From there it was fuel, the bakery for food, water and back on the road. Not a lot to do in Birdsville except perhaps tick it off the bucket list.
The road out was as bad as the road in despite a bloke saying ‘it’s a good road’. What does that mean? And for who – cars or bikes?
We saw quite a few wild horses on the side of the road which of course took off when you tried to take a pic. Richard doesn’t like horses and thought they’d be good for French soup or gelatine…
We must be in the zone as no sooner had we got into the dirt the asphalt started again after 166km of banging and sliding around. I suspect we are going to miss the excitement.
About 25km south of Bedourie we found a fabulous campsite by a river. The water was freezing but felt amazing after four days on the road!
We both feel a huge sense of accomplishment by riding to Birdsville.
And doing it in style.