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The longest Haul - testing times 22/10/2017 02:38 PM


22.07.17 - 16.10.17 (Three friggin months)

Well where do I start? As I sit and type, nearly three months since breaking down at Timber Creek, now on a plane back from Adelaide to Darwin, I ponder at all the going ons and events leading up to the middle of ‘friggin’ October’. Shaking my head at how the hell I ended up on a plane in the middle of my tour, flying over Uluru instead of riding through Sydney on my lil trusty ol’ Ella

Finding an inner peace, once accepting the fact that anything can happen at any given time, allows me to master the knack of ‘living in the present moment’ – my ability to master dodging the curve balls that are thrown my way, never ceases to amaze me. The art of detachment, flexibility and adaptability all becoming virtuous acts of living a transient life ‘on the road with two wheels’.

Not wanting to outstay my welcome at any one place, my first few days in Darwin were spent with Ella in Humpty Doo. A midway destination where Ella was supposed to have her next major service by the very generous, avid vintage enthusiasts, Dick Grylls and his lovely wife Cheree. Dick started to tackle the job – assessing what caused Ella to breakdown, when he came to the conclusion that this was a job for the guru Murray Morrell. So off to Perth the motor went, where she spent the next ten weeks.

I decided to make good use of my time while Ella’s motor was getting a makeover, so promoting the cause, ‘raising awareness’ and looking for potential ‘fundraising’ supporters was the motivator behind having to leave the comfort and serenity at Dick and Cheree’s very comfortable  lush, bush block, in order to find accommodation closer to the big smoke. The next 10 weeks were interesting to say the least. Firstly, I managed to endure a crazy week of madness at the Mercure Hotel with my all-time bestie, Michelle. Two loose lipped, hot headed menopausal creatures trying to adapt to tropical heat, which was triggering off ‘topical body rashes’ to say the least, leading to several rants and raves at poor bar staff, shop assistants and hotel clerks – bless em! A few bottles of wine later, followed by many a belly laughs at our own expense, and the odd night out, was what kept us sane and in good spirits, as you could imagine.

Michelle and I bid our farewells as she had to return to Adelaide and my next three weeks were a blessing. A much needed therapeutic, three weeks of peace and tranquillity while being nurtured by the very caring and generous ol’ time Whyalla friend Meg (now living in Darwin), with whom I respect and treasure dearly. Meg soothed my Soul at a time when I was starting to lose patience and hope. Staying focused was quite difficult as the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months. Many sunrises were spent at the reasonably new ‘Darwin Waterfront’, nutting out several chapters of the book followed by ‘Luke warm swims’ in the bay (will never get used to the warm water produced from tropical climates).

Knowing when to move on while the goings good, and not wanting to outstay my welcome, I then got to spend the rest of my stay with a very generous host – fellow adventure rider (Horizons Unlimited) , whose passion and dream is to continue a life scouring the seven continents on two wheels. With several bikes scattered around the globe, I have enjoyed every minute of Dave’s worldly journeys over a few beers and a good ol’ ozzie barbie, ‘a very colourful life had on the road’ by a pretty amazing fellow.

I started to wonder what my purpose was while in Darwin. An unusual stay, as most my usual ‘raising awareness’ activities and ‘lobbying’ appeared to go on deaf ears  except the odd guest appearance at young mums groups and radio promotions. However I managed to work it out. Darwin was all about ‘connections’. While in Darwin I met some amazing people, fellow travellers (sailor Bob, who I first met in Dampier then again Broome, now Darwin), and locals – some bike enthusiasts, all coming together, making new friendships and sharing good times.

The odd ‘thirsty Thursday’ spent out at Dick and Cheree’s sharing a few bevvies with fellow club riders brought back some old-time memories of living in Whyalla, 17 years of boat building – same ethos just different mode of transport ??, and I have to make a mention of ‘The Deckchair’ - outdoor cinema, which I loved to go too. Right on the edge of the ocean, sitting in deckchairs, with a good movie, bar and restaurant – the icing on the cake.

Visiting Jabiru was my highlight, and being blessed to have been taken there by a very special man Mal, another passionate humanitarian with strong connections to ‘the land’. A weekend immersing myself in culture, chillaxing with the locals, learning local activities which takes the patience of a saint to master, tasting local foods and listening and dancing to some brilliant local and interstate musical talent – all in all this experience for me which was hard to top off.

I met many kind and supportive people along the way (several Whyalla people), having lots of special moments, making Darwin a real treat while on this journey. While tending to promotions and planning the tour finale in Whyalla – my home town, I found myself having to make arrangements for an urgent visit there for family matters. I had two very special weeks with my mum, and connected again with many friends who were all wanting to support the cause and what I was doing, making plans and preparations that much easier face to face and in the same town.

However unfortunate for me, three months in one place was way too long, setting me back at least two months on the trip. At the time of writing this blog (still in Darwin), according to the itinerary, I was supposed to be near Sydney around mid-October escaping the top end’s ‘build up’ and ‘wet season’. Along with the ongoing expenses now chewing into the budget I took on three weeks work at the ‘Free Spirit Lodge’ (very fitting haha!), it topped up the bank account but still no good news on the motor (see attached link for mechanical report), it was time to revaluate the remainder of the journey.

Seeking wise words of wisdom from those close to me allowed me to come up with several plans, all of which if I continued on with the journey once Ella was put back together, I would have to transport the old girl out of Darwin, by passing the Gulf of Carpentaria and the top end of Qld,  having to land further south of Qld due to the tropical weather