Mount Gambier to Apollo Bay
“From Mount Gambier we headed down the road through the plantations to Port Fairy and then, after a pleasant enough ride, stopped for a quick lunch at Warrnambool. “As we rode through the pine plantations that morning, the temperature was a brisk 10 degrees – our coldest yet, and we were again grateful for our DriRider jackets. “The plantations are large - some 4,000 to 8,000 ha each - and the yield can be seen at the port with poles and wood chip being loaded onto ships at Portland. “It’s another facet of sustainable agriculture in this broad country of ours, and an industry that provides jobs and incomes and helps keep these towns and cities rolling along. “From Warrnambool we made our way down the world famous Great Ocean Road which I discovered was built by returned soldiers and dedicated to those killed in WWI. “It is the world's largest war memorial and is home to diverse geographic areas from rainforest to beaches and limestone cliffs – and again, the photo opportunities were endless. “After the 12 Apostles, I was lucky enough to hit the lead and travel 50km through the winding road with no other vehicle in front of me. “Suffice to say that, on the bike and in that environment, it was the most beautiful bike ride I have encountered on this trip - exhilarating and visually stimulating, making it at times quite surreal and very dangerous. “But never fear, we all behaved ourselves, some of the tourists in cars were another story.
“That evening, we rode into the wonderful seaside town of Apollo Bay, another wonderful day on the road in this wonderful country."
Adelaide to Mt Gambier
“After setting off from Adelaide and a great ride through the beautiful Adelaide Hills, we stopped briefly to visit Chris and Beth Cowan at their historic family home Poltalloch, perched overlooking the magnificent Lake Alexandrina at the mouth of the mighty Murray, before making our way to Mt Gambier.
"We made a quick pitstop and tour of Kingston, where – in another lifetime – my wife Jen and our friend Nick A and I went on our way to Robe for a New Year’s Eve party some 30 years ago. “Larry the Lobster was still there however was undergoing brain surgery which proved difficult as he was missing his head.
“Arrived in Mt Gambier at Beachport Liquid Minerals to an interview with the local paper and then a very interesting tour of the facility with Kim Sutherland.
“Graham and Jane Crowder were to be our hosts for the next two days at beautiful Pelican Point, which is a very picturesque spot and provided plenty of opportunities for photos. “We had a BBQ dinner with fresh crayfish as the entrée - went down very well. “The next day we toured Mt Gambier and also had a look at the forestry and fishing industries which are a significant contributor to the local economy, as is agriculture, and there were mountains of hay bales in every direction. “I took myself off for an afternoon away on the bike, visiting Blackmans Cave and then to Port McDonnell to get a good look at the local area and soak up some of its history, including the stories of the many shipwrecks that dot the coast. “Lighthouses were prolific in the area, and some of the original structures still remain. “Then it was back to Pelican Point for another evening, with the sun setting over the ocean as a backdrop, and the colours changing from hour to hour. “The light was fantastic, and a friendly pelican and a few other birds made a cameo appearance for me, as did the obliging moon.
“It was beautiful to just sit quietly with the camera for two hours. A big thank you to Graham and Jane for another memorably wonderful two days.
Port Augusta to Adelaide
“From Port Augusta we made a beeline for Adelaide and were hosted to a wonderful and very welcome BBQ dinner by the Sarah family, for which we were all greatly appreciative. “We hadn't seen that many lamb chops in one sitting for quite a while!
“James (Sarah) had Charlie sorted quite quickly that evening and we had the pleasure of a Uber driver to take us to what was to be our abode for the next 48 hrs.
“Our digs was a warehouse in inner Adelaide – and amazing space that contained a number of Porsches, an Audi and even an Aston Martin with a life size card of James Bond. “The other half of the warehouse was a converted bar/lounge and games area which is every boy’s dream and came complete with an original Space Invaders game. “Burto had a fright during the night when “James Bond” took a tumble and actually fell on top of him – Burto woke up wrestling 007 at 4am.
“Our first night in the City of Churches ended with an impressive thunderstorm and lightning.
“The following day (Thursday) we all individually ventured out to various points of the city to explore, catch up and do jobs. “I ended up at Elders head office where I caught up with my boss, Liz, who has announced she is pregnant, which is nice news. “I managed a photo shoot with the rest of the team which will feature in an Elders Finance newsletter soon. Not often I present at “work” in jeans, bike jacket and full beard - definitely feeling a bit rough around the edges. “Friends Tom Adams and his wife Suzanne, along with Tom Penna, Ross Kingham and Rob Dawes joined us at the Coopers Ale House for dinner and a catch-up which made for a great night. “Cookie wasn’t feeling the best and declined the invitation to dinner, but he certainly woke on Friday feeling much better than some of us (!) as we hit the road for the 540+km to Mt Gambier.”
Elliston to Port Augusta
At Elliston, our Compass Runners were treated to two nights in a cottage overlooking the bay, courtesy of generous ride supporters Bruce and Samantha Agars. The Agars live 20km outside Elliston, and the lads spent an afternoon looking around the property with Bruce, and learning of its past, present and future.
Here's a round-up and some pics from Steve:
"It was great to get out to the Agars' property with Bruce for an afternoon. It's a very different agriculture and methodology than I'm familiar with - with 20,000 acres running to the edge of the ocean and carrying one sheep to four acres. "Bruce and his family have been on the property for more than 100 years and have added to it over the years. "It was fascinating to spend time with Bruce and we were grateful for the opportunity of such a great day. "Later that evening, we shouted Samantha and Bruce at the local for dinner. "Even though he says he doesn’t get out much, Bruce greeted everyone who walked in the door by name - reflective of the kind of friendly, close-knit village that is Elliston. Great place, great people."
Rolling down the road towards Port Augusta, we visited Coffin Bay which is another beautiful spot and reminds me of Brisbane Water near Gosford for its size.
"Coffin Bay is renowned for its oysters, but believe it or not, we didn't get to sample the famous wares. The pub that had the oysters advertised told us they wouldn't be serving lunch for another hour so we left disappointed.
"We pushed on and had our lunch at Port Lincoln, with its large fishing industry, and managed to come across the signs of a fish farm, which was interesting, so we stopped for a stickybeak. "Further north to Arno Bay we rode, passing the rolling paddocks of cropping as far as the eye could see.
"At the bay was a massive complex processing farmed tuna from the rings we could see offshore. "Then it was on to Whyalla and Port Augusta where I spent an hour down the highway taking photos of the magnificent Flinders Ranges as the sun set over this iconic part of Australia, with its remarkable colours and formations.
"Some time there gave me space to reflect on what a great couple of days it had been and also what great people I had met in that time."
Nullarbor Roadhouse to Elliston
"Sunrise on the Nullarbor at the Nullarbor greeted us as did a flock of galahs to welcome the new day after a stunning display of clouds and then lightning from the previous evening. We packed up and took off with a big day to get to Elliston down the Eyre Peninsular some 600klm's away. Yesterday was the cliff tour and today was the jetty tour with a quick stop at Penong to see the windmill collection and in particular "Bruce" the largest Comet windmill in Australia. We headed to Ceduna and jetty no 1 and also a tour of the shipping port at Thevenard in Denial Bay. It was a windy day to say the least and memories of the West Coast sprang to mind as we headed further down the Flinders Highway. Jetty no 2 was at Smoky Bay and of course with jetties you also get birds so this was one of the few times I missed the "big lens" or the hollow log as birthday boy Mal Terbutt has often described it. On to Streaky Bay for jetty no 3 and my travelling companions were all jettied out and were about to jettison me for the time taken. These are all beautiful spots with fantastic outlooks and feel like they are undiscovered, well by me anyway. We headed further South and battled the crosswinds again which is draining as it focusses your attention continuously and you find yourself making adjustments as the gusts push you from right to left. Charlie advised us that he spent the last 100klm at an angle of 45 degrees to the right and whilst he is not known for exaggeration when telling a story, it felt like it at times. The trip ended at a great little seaside cottage in Elliston which provided me with great photo opportunities and ..... another jetty. "
Madura to Nullarbor Roadhouse
If these photos are any indication, we can see why Day 37 took a little longer than anticipated. Here's Steve's update:
“After breakfast at Madura, we saddled up and it was back on the bikes and across the plain – once the seabed. “To our left was a continuous ribbon of cliffs and on the right a flat vista through to the coast at times 40+ km away. “This continued for some 185km and ended at the Eucla Pass which gave us uninterrupted views to the vast southern ocean. “There were a lot fewer ‘roos on the road at this stage which made for a refreshing change.
“From Eucla we headed over the border to SA and stopped for the obligatory photo op with the sign and also with a giant ‘roo holding a jar of vegemite. I am not even going to bother explain that, however it’s very popular with tourists and kids.
“It was shortly after this that we technically began our crossing of the Nullarbor, through the national park. That meant no trees (null arbour) however it did mean the start of access to the Great Australian Bight and the iconic cliff shots which I certainly had no problem with and neither did the boys. We were excited at every stop and in awe of the stunning scenery – we pulled up at scenic lookouts numbers one to four! “After 300km we called in at the Nullarbor Roadhouse for fuel to find we were a little late to push on, so after a brief chat about the ride and Without a Ribbon, the team at the roadhouse gave us a room for free.
“This was very welcome as we didn't want to battle road trains, ‘roos and wombats at night.
Norseman to Madura
"We rode out of Norseman this morning (Friday) with the mercury at 12 degrees, which Cookie loved (not). “After fuelling up, we took some time for a look around this famed town and ended up at the lookout, where there were good photo opportunities and an equally good history lesson. “Norseman was named after the horse of an early settler. The horse was lame from a rock lodged in its hoof - a piece of quartz containing gold…
“So began a “gold rush” – and it was on from that point in the 1890s, however the mining was hard with it all the gold contained in quartz rock as opposed to the alluvial gold further north. “It appeared to be a hard life to say the least. These days the town suffers, with most of the workers being FIFO (fly-in-fly-out) and the only new buildings are those of the government services, although the bones of the old Norseman are there for everyone to see. “I loved the community garden which was bouncing along nicely and the work being done on the streetscape provided a stark contrast. It was tough then and it’s tough now.
“After heading out from Norseman, we met a few travellers as we went East, mostly caravaners who we passed a couple of times as we stopped at each roadhouse.
“The 146km straight bit took some time as we stopped for an impromptu photo shoot after a policeman waved at us from the opposite direction and Charlie needed to change his pants. “Most of the way took us through sheep country not dissimilar to Cobar or Bourke in NSW, which surprised me as my preconceived notions had us travelling through desert landscapes inhospitable to man. How wrong I was. “We originally planned to stop at Cocklebiddy for the night however after visiting the caged eagles (:-( ), and given we were ahead of schedule, we decided to press on to the Madura Pass Oasis Motel. “So it ended up being a 554km day, and we forwarded our clocks by 45 mins due to a time change. “So what’s it like travelling 146 km in a straight line? Well, some people might play “I spy” and some the number plate game on such a stretch. “We, on the other hand, played “Dodge the Dead ‘Roo”.
“It’s a great game - accentuated by the smell, depending on the time of death of the individual animal. Throw in a couple of emu carcasses to round out the national Coat of Arms and it’s a game the whole family can play. “Night time travel in this area is a definite no-no unless you are in a Kenworth. I can only guess that we passed 400+ ‘roos in the second half of the trip. And that’s just the ones that weren't moving. “There was undoubtedly more road-kill off the road and being used as dinner tables for the crows and wedge-tailed eagles, which were abundant. “In all my travels I have never seen anything like the modern art displayed on the bitumen with the splatter patterns worthy of an episode of NCIS. “At one stage the monotony was broken by a slalom run between the bodies on the road, and this provided some welcome relief from the sameness. “You might think that sounds flippant; possibly, but it had a touch of the surreal as we headed to Madura.
“An absolute highlight was stopping at the pass as the sun set over the plains and in my imagination the trees were like great buffalo on a prairie, thousands slowly moving in the wind.
“The visual feast was totally unexpected. I fell in love with this country all over again. Beautiful."
Albany to Norseman
"Albany to Ravensthorpe was a leisurely ride in the afternoon following the morning of getting bikes serviced and new tyres organised. “Ravensthorpe is definitely a mining-oriented centre with existing and new mines evident. “We had dinner with the “fluoro” brigade at the Palace Hotel where we were just four of the 120+ meals served that evening. “Spoke with a bloke named Phil, who is heading up a new lithium mine in the area and posted some jobs on the community board in the pub.
“Rang Jen, however she wasn't too keen on making the move for some reason…
“If anyone is keen on having a crack at these jobs and for a change of scenery for a couple of years call now! “Phil and two of his offsiders threw us $20 each after we explained what we were doing on the bikes. This has been and is a common theme, when we stop and have the time to chat to people.
“Woke at 6am to see a fellow traveller don his yellow raincoat and head out on his pushbike and trailer. We passed him an hour and half later on the road to Esperance in the drizzle and gave him a wave. There’s another story in that old bloke, no doubt. “We had dressed in the DriRider weather pants and jackets which proved very effective for the first 100klms of rain that morning, and a big thank you to our sponsors!
“We had to lift Cookie off his bike at the first stop as it was 15 degrees and wet and he was frozen in place like a Lego man. “This is all Charlie's country in that his family spent the early part of his childhood in the area and we even stopped off for a photo of the first primary school he attended. It brought back memories of his early years and he related how the teacher set up a boxing ring in the playground with ropes and chairs and let them have a go with gloves. “I can feel all the teachers cringing at the thought of this, but remember it is reflective of a completely different era. “Arrived in Esperance after riding through rolling cropping country with some crops still to be harvested and did a tour of the coast line which was beautiful. With the southern ocean hammering away the sun came out for a photo shoot.
“We had spent a couple of hours getting the final tyres on the last two bikes so we are set for the Nullarbor and I also managed to drop into the Elders branch to see some of my compatriots hard at work. “We then headed up to Norseman for the night and as I type, we await the first hit across the famous plain to Cocklebiddy tomorrow. “I am sorry to leave the WA area however I now know that I will be back to spend a more leisurely time with the camera in the future."
Augusta to Albany
Today was a 600-odd km day for our Compass Runners - and tonight has them at Augusta (this shot shows the famed Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse), at the bottom of the great state of WA. They took a few little detours today to savour some of the magnificent WA coast, including Busselton, where they stopped for lunch.
The temperature slid to a cool 21 degrees today - and now they're complaining of the cold.
The lads had a whale of a time (boom tish) at Albany, where they visited the former whaling station. As a young child, Charlie grew up in the area, and as a nine year old, his parents delayed their move back east by a couple of weeks to enable their youngster to go on an excursion to the Albany whaling station - which was still in operation at the time (yes, he's THAT old!). Steve and Charlie clearly enjoyed hamming it up for the Compass Run photo album!
Geraldton to Perth to Augusta
The boys had an uneventful and swift ride to Perth so Charlie could attend to his bike! After much welcomed repairs and some general housekeeping chores they were on the road again!
"Stayed two nights in Perth courtesy of the Ross family in a unit overlooking the Swan River. Rest and sleep were the order of the day and it was good to meander around the place and not have to look at the bikes for an extended period. "Did 370klm from Perth to Augusta with our tour guide Warwick Peatling on his Harley Davidson, heading to beautiful Busselton with its wonderful history and another big jetty beautifully restored. "Water is fantastic and after lunch we headed south to Augusta through Margaret River. "Apparently there are a couple of wineries in the area (!!) but unfortunately we've been unable to stop and sample their wares, given drink driving is still a crime!
"Cape Leeuwin drew me in for its historic significance and also the setting sun providing some great light for photos of the surrounding shore. The boat harbour looks brand new and is the most pristine I have ever seen. "Dinner tonight (Sunday) in the pub and getting ready to head to Albany tomorrow (Monday).
"So we have turned the corner - one more "corner" to go!"
Carnarvon to Geraldton
"Started the day with high hopes as we left Wooramel Roadhouse at 6am in the cool of the day at 27 degrees and no wind. We headed down to the Overlander Roadhouse. "We were in the right place at the right time as we had breakfast and waited for John Hudson who's endeavouring to cross Australia on a motorbike in less than 72 hrs to break the record. "He managed a refuel and bacon & egg sandwich before racing off again. "John took time to have a photo with us and said that while he is going from compass point to compass point he admits that our trip would be a lot more fun.
"Understatement to say the least!
"We wish him well in his quest which is about halfway through at this time ..... amazing!
"This left us all on a considerable high as we rode to Denham thinking of our individual trips and what we were trying to achieve together."
After leaving Wooramel Roadhouse on such a high from meeting John Hudson, who is attempting a record breaking motorbike ride from Steep Point to Byron Bay in just 72 hours our intrepid Compass Runners came back to earth with something of a thud
Here's the update from Steve.....
"We were excited to be heading to our second compass point, and were revved up from meeting John, but when we pulled into Denham, it became evident that our goal of reaching the Western Compass point was slipping away very fast. "Riding in to Steep Point as a group was not going to happen. "Charlie's bike was still overheating and both his and my ribs were still not up to scratch so handling sand dunes and sand tracks was outside our physical capabilities.
"We knew this was the case so had hired a 4WD to get us to Steep Point and were looking forward to at least getting there, even if it wasn't to be on our bikes.
"After making enquiries, it became apparent the 4WD was on its way to Perth and nothing else was available. "Hire car firms won't let you take their vehicles to Steep Point (because of the risk). "We asked different boat operators and tour companies, $1750+ for 4 for a full day, however nothing was available as it was the end of the season. "We would have to wait 'til Monday to try again however we were due in Perth tomorrow for prior commitments.
"Very frustrating to see all this slipping away from us, however we made one last ditch effort. A final call - to a charter plane company - had Charlie and me in the air for 50 minutes so we could at least fly over the Steep Point and take photos. "This was to be the solution to our predicament and the flight was the best thing I have experienced for a long time with the day so clear and the views up the coast and over Shark Bay were fantastic.
"Cookie (chopper pilot) wasn't going to sit in a "hairyplane" being flown by someone else and Burto decided to head to Monkey Mia which was apparently a sight to behold.
"So despite our disappointment, we managed to semi-salvage the day and ended up having more experiences to chalk up to the Compass Run ride. "We headed off on the bikes in the afternoon, stopping at the sign to Steep Point which seemed to mock us to a degree. "But we didn't have time to dwell on it - the heat and the flies (and a pending commitment in Perth) saw to that."
"On the way to Geraldton, we saw the first cropping areas we'd come across for a while. "Felt like we are heading into "civilisation" again as we crossed the Murchison river and headed to the Sunset Caravan & Holiday Village with an afternoon on the beach watching kite surfers and a great sunset to wash the day away. truly a memorable day for its highs and lows."
Nanutarra Roadhouse to Carnarvon
"Day started a little earlier than usual and we left the Nanutarra Roadhouse at 6am with more than 650klm to complete. "Temperature was a lot kinder at 29 degrees which meant we could all open the throttle as we headed to Coral Bay and Ningaloo Reef, which were spectacular.
"Back on the road to Carnarvon and the temp immediately rose to 39 degrees and the crosswind picked up significantly
"About 30km from Carnarvon the temp rose to over 40 and we had issues with the change of wind keeping the bikes headed in the right direction.
"Burto even found himself on the wrong side of a corner after a significant gust, it was interesting riding conditions to say the least. Add the odd twister into the mix and we felt we were in an episode of Sharknado.
"Went to the mile long jetty for a brief photo op and headed off again after refuel and lunch.
"The next 140km was ordinary to say the least - the head/cross wind kept us on our toes especially when we had a B-Double coming the other way. Very long stretches interspersed with shrubs and bushes (no trees) and livestock kept us awake. "For those not familiar with bikes, when you are riding straight stretches at 110kph it should be relatively easy to keep a straight line. You steer the bike by leaning to the left or right you don't "turn the wheel". With the crosswinds smashing you from the right and gusting it means you have to constantly realign the bikes by shifting your weight and also contend with your helmeted head being jabbed by Mike Tyson 15/20 times a minute whilst keeping an eye out for cattle, goats and roos in bushes that were constantly moving, not to mention the odd road train and caravan. "After an hour or so of that we pulled into the Roadhouse as the wind got worse. I know it sounds terrible however it was exhilarating and fun and part of the deal".
"Coral Bay was spectacular and we spent over an hour having breakfast and chatting to some of the tour operators.
"Corey showed us the hand held motors which assist people when snorkelling and told us the technology allows people to view at least 65% of the reef in one outing. Powered by lithium batteries which are very effective and doesn't scare the fish. "Unfortunately we didn't have time to try these out and Charlie and I felt it would be unfair on the whale sharks to have that much competition in the water at the same time!"
Port Headland to Nanutarra Roadhouse
"Charlie spent yesterday morning with the bike mechanic and had high hopes of a resolution to the overheating issues for his bike. "WeCar joined him at 10am after a leisurely breakfast and packing up from the motel accommodation. "Bike was tested and ready to go so we set off from Port Hedland at 10.30am, heading south. ...
"We pulled up at the same truck bay as the day before (when we'd had to turn back) to find the bike was still overheating. "The suggestion was made to put some gaffer tape over the gauge so Charlie couldn't see it. "Decided to press on as we couldn't afford the money & time to turn back again to Port Hedland.
"So Whim Creek Hotel was the next stop. This settlement used to be a copper mine in the 1800s - it now has a population of 400. "Stuff that for a joke ... 41C and looking for a drink and some shade. At least we now have the four-trailer mine trucks/road trains behind us. "We pressed on to Roeburne, following the coastal highway, and dropped in to the Mawarnkarra Health Service to say g'day to Leigh Black . "The views to the coast from the lookout were terrific and we could see the lighthouse on the coast and a few ships lined up outside Dampier. "After the brief respite, we pressed on to Fortescue Roadhouse, battling crosswinds and high temps again which is an all too familiar combination. "We continue to marvel at the people who live and work in this area of Australia.
"It is evident that nothing is easy, however the coast is mostly around 20km away which provides some relief. "Sunset came at about 30km out from our destination being, Nanutarra Roadhouse. "The sunset was fantastic, with soft light over the harsh red and brown hills and plains giving us a very picturesque ride.
"A shower, feed and sleep were in order as we realise we reached our halfway point somewhere in the past day, having completed more than 9,600km since we left."
"Spent a very welcome half hour going through the facility and meeting the CEO and founder Joan, Sue the cook and Amanda as well as other staff members who were disappointed that we weren't wearing leather jackets as Leigh had promised!
"The facility and staff provide an amazing array of medical services and programs for mostly indigenous families in the area and the pride in this facility was evident. After the lovely air-con and cold water, we were sort of reluctant to leave!"
Broome to Port Headland
Nothing like a Harley escort outta town...
Our Compass Runners left beautiful Broome in the company of mates Phil and Peter (with slight regret, given how much they'd enjoyed the downtime).
That was Sunday and they were Port Hedland bound - looks like a great start, doesn't it? Well....
With cooling problems still plaguing Charlie's bike, it spent some time at the doc's in Broome, but alas, it again began to play up on the way to Port Hedland. Seems it's not enjoying the 40++ heat either.
Here's an update from Steve:
"Charlie's bike still overheating so met our host Tony Poulson at a roadhouse and trailered it to Port Hedland and another mechanic.
"New thermostat should do the trick so we had dinner with Tony and his wife Em and their 3yo son Clancy . We headed out of Port Hedland again, but Chuckie's bike decided 20km in 44-46 degree heat was enough for day two. "Back to the mechanic and another night in Port Hedland, where he dismantled bits and pieces including the water pump. Will now look at the head gasket. Tomorrow (Tuesday) should give us a better answer."
So it's now Tuesday night here at Compass Run HQ, and we're waiting on an update as to where the team is and the state Charlie's bike. A quick check in from the lads this morning had them still in good spirits, but concerned about keeping to the schedule.....Cross fingers.
The upside of the downtime was an opportunity to have a poke around Port Hedland, which has left Steve quite impressed:
"Cookie and I were able to have a bit of a run around town and photos are of the port with ships being loaded with iron ore and another 21 waiting at sea. The landscape and the colours are extraordinary.
"Have I mentioned how hot it is here? ...
"Bottled water is the main source of drinking water with a 4 x 1.5litre package for $6. No gouging when it's this important!
"Fascinating town and infrastructure with BHP and Rio Tinto the main players.
"Had a yarn with a policemen, who chatted to us while filling up on the way out and after hearing our story he chipped in $10."
Amongst all this industry, nice to see nature can co-exist....
Broome - Rest Day
Some of the lucky/happy/generous winners and supporters who came along to the fundraiser at the Mangrove Hotel in Broome - organised by Tania and Phil Thorley. Together, these guys all helped put more than $1000 into the Compass Run/ Without a Ribbon kitty!
For those that don't know, Steve Cowley is our resident photographer. Steve's talent behind the lens is second to none and what a spot to test that talent on, but the awe inspiring Broome....
Couldn't resist some sunset shots of Cable Beach.......aaaaah the serenity !
Fitzroy Crossing to Broome
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!
Kununurra to Fitzroy Crossing
Our Compass Runners are touching hearts all over this wide brown land of ours. At Fitzroy Crossing, Norina Hall (pictured here with the lads) heard of their quest and insisted not only on buying them a drink, but on shouting dinner as well. Norina was in FC with colleagues visiting primary schools - she is part of a program that runs boarding facilities for indigenous students in Broome.
(So how's that weight loss program coming along, fellas?)
Coolibah Station to Kununurra
After a short ride into Kununurra, the boys were able to enjoy the hospitality of the Kimberleyland Caravan Park.........yet another border crossed!
A good feed and a few drinks found the boys turning in for an early night to prepare for the journey to Fitzroy Crossing.......nothing like a sunrise over Lake Kununurra to start the day! A few stops along the way included an info session for Burto at the monument for the Ord Irrigation Project dam wall on Lake Kununurra.
Darwin to Coolibah Station (Victoria River Region)
The lads spent their night at Katherine as guests of the Bethel and Murphy families on their mango farm and took this high-tech "selfie" just before they hit the road again, Coolibah Station bound.
At Coolibah Station, the Compass Runners were treated to more of the legendary Top End hospitality - thanks to Milton and Cristina Jones, who also run North Australian Helicopters, one of Compass Run's major sponsors.
Here's some of Steve's shots of the picturesque Coolibah Station - enjoy! (The fellas certainly did!)
Daly Waters to Darwin
Plenty of sightseeing along the way to Darwin including a 'comfort stop at Adelaide River... Burto found another "Charlie" who is just as full of bull...(And almost as iconic!)
Elders has been a very generous sponsor for Compass Run, so it was great for the lads to catch up with Elders man Richard Walsh in Darwin. Richard went out to meet the Compass Runners and ride his own bike the last leg back into Darwin with the team (that's him, front and centre).
Richard has also been a great "fixer" for the fellas - organising services and tyres and other bits and pieces ahead of time.
Thanks Richard, and thanks Elders!
Mt Isa to Daly Waters
Our intrepid Compass Runners had another VERY big day - managing to haul themselves more than 1000km from Mt Isa to Daly Waters - still nursing some lingering injuries, but in good spirits.
Our Awesome Foursome were guests of Jack and Kimberley Harries at Daly Waters Hi Way Inn, where the very generous locals helped raise more than $700... by running what, by all reports, was an hilarious evening of cane toad racing! During the long haul to Daly Waters, the boys came through a storm at Banka Banka. Steve says: "The storm drowned us and the rain hail and wind made it very difficult to keep the bikes in a straight line. But the temperature dropped to 25 which was welcome. Unfortunately, it was shortlived - soon blasting back up to 41 for the last 100km which ensured we were dry and very hot."
So the beers at Daly Waters went down well, we imagine!
Normanton to Mt Isa
"Wind was so hot you could feel it burning your face, so face helmets down all the way. Very hot. Tomorrow will be interesting as we kick off at 6 am and will be hoping to make Daly Waters - 1000km. Biggest day yet, but trying to make up the time lost. "Had a pit-stop at the Burke & Wills roadhouse on the way through.
Punsand Bay to Normanton
Unfortunately, as the Compass Runners left Artemis Station (in the gulf) a massive storm had gone ahead of them, leaving sections of the dirt road through to Normanton in a dangerous - and unpredictable - state. Sadly, our intrepid fellas all fell foul of the conditions - but the good news is that, apart from some battle scars for both men and machines - they're all okay. No serious injuries - all pretty sore in places, but okay. No doubt they'll one day laugh about the adventure, but it's less than funny at the moment. The storm had turned sections of the road to red jelly, which effectively brought the bikes to a screaming halt and after two "offs" for each of the boys, they could go no further. Fortunately, the satellite phone earned its keep, and they were able to contact Koolatah Station - where they were due for morning smoko - and the guys there came out the 65km to meet them and bring the four walking wounded back to the station. The bikes were picked up shortly after by Alby Davey with truck and hiab and returned to Koolatah, where the boys will bed down for the night, re-group and assess any damage. With more rain falling this afternoon and tonight, and with further storms predicted for the gulf, the boys are re-assessing the planned route for the next few days - which locals say will be pretty much impassable. So the upshot is - everyone is okay, but some small route changes may be necessary for the next leg, through to Darwin.
Suffice to say, we here at Compass Run HQ are all VERY proud of these blokes and their achievements so far!
We're all behind you Charlie, Steve, Burto and Cookie!
The lads were VERY pleased to reach Normanton last night - thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Andrew Davey (and his little offsider Millie) from Koolatah Station, who gave both men and machines a 270km lift and deposited them into the welcoming hands of "Frog", licensee at the Albion Hotel.
They were also very happy to get out of their muddy gear and into their Total Energy Solar sponsored t-shirts - so a big shout out to the Davey family, Frog and the team at the Albion, and a particular THANK YOU to Bruce McDonald from sponsor Total Energy Solar - for both the generous sponsorship and for supplying solar for the outback!
Weipa to Punsand Bay
The boys had some technological "challenges", so access to internet & network with which to send photos is limited, but they managed to get a few through from Punsand Bay (right up near the top of Cape York), where they stayed last night with Rod and Anne Colquhoun, and discovered the couple has close connections with both Dubbo (Steve's home town) and Charlie. Small world!
The trip is going well - physically and emotionally challenging, but our Awesome Foursome are... sticking together and looking after each other.
They reached their first compass point this morning - the northern most tip of Oz, at Cape York Peninsula - and they are thrilled to have that first milestone under their belts!
Weipa - Rest Day
The boys arrived at Weipa Caravan Park yesterday, arrived early afternoon and booked in to our wonderful accommodation and basically collapsed. Fish, Chips and Calamari for dinner, then a well earned night's rest. Decided to go fishing for the morning and were taken out by Reel River Sports Fishing. Shane did a great job and the boys bagged 4 Golden Snapper (Fingermarks) which they enjoyed for dinner with a few Great Northerns, who, by the way, should be sponsoring the Compass Runners! The boys played tourist and viewed the bulk carriers loading bauxite, which is the main employer in this area and enjoyed the day on the water. Burto has an aversion to boats so stayed on land. On our return an afternoon nap was in order in readiness for the ride tomorrow and the Cape the day after........great to have a break today, much appreciated by all.
Archer River Roadhouse to Weipa
Day 6 proved to be a tough day on the road for the Compass Runners...........bulldust holes and corrugations so deep you could 'bury your dog in them'!
Just a couple of pics of our weary riders...
Laura to Archer River Roadhouse
Photos were taken at Laura Roadhouse with Magoo and his helicopter before moving up the road to Archer River Roadhouse with Modena, Brad, Janette and Hugh. Great nights at Laura and Archer with terrific hosts. Archer were having a Melbourne Cup luncheon when we arrived and were firing on all cylinders. The order of the day was dodging road crews, dozers, graders and trucks who are pushing bitumen all the way to Weipa over the next 6 years 40klm per year. Dirt then tar then dirt over the couple of 100 kms.
East Palmerston to Laura
Early start with another big breakfast had us on the way. We made it as far as the Spring Bean Café in Tolga, where we were treated to amazing coffee and some of the yummiest sweet treats - a must if you are anywhere on the Tablelands!
On to Mareeba, where Cookie's bike needed a new rear tyre then began the tough part of our journey! Once leaving Mt Molloy the heat struck and the pressures for this ride to the tip were becoming ever evident. Arriving in Laura just after 5pm gave us time to unpack and enjoy the fantastic hospitality of Magoo at the Laura Roadhouse and Caravan Park.
Early to bed as tomorrow's ride will be one of our toughest. Nearly 300km of nasty dirt road. This will be our toughest challenge to date.
The Spring Bean Café, Tolga Magoo & the Compass Runners
Townsville to East Palmerston
This was a short day from Townsville to East Palmerston, we did some shopping and did a major reassessment of the gear as on a trip like this weight is the enemy. Charlie's bike had a small malfunction which was corrected by Cookie and we were on our way by mid afternoon. A splendid ride north from Townsville through Cardwell, Ingham and Tully before we turned left crossing the South Johnson River and onto the lower Atherton Tablelands.
A meal of smoked pork roast and veggies, followed by a 'to die for' dessert saw us fall into the cot tired with a full stomach - sincere thanks to Jack & Mandy Larsen for their incredible hospitality!!
A quick pitstop in Cardwell The stunning Atherton Tablelands
Rockhampton to Townsville
Early start to Townsville and although still early days we started to find the groove and settle into a good day, arriving in Townsville to a few friends who welcomed us and possibly stayed too long.
The boys managed a tourist stop at Inkerman Hill, allowing an incredible view over the cane fields and stunning coastline of North Queensland.
Brisbane to Rockhampton
After a fabulous send off from Greenslopes the boys were underway!
The first day allowed a bit of a shakedown and introduction to what will become a regular feeling at the end of each day......the need for a good feed, maybe a beer and to rest the tender nether region ;)
Compass Run Departure.....and it begins
Beautiful clear, warm Brissy morning for the kick-off of the Compass Run epic ride.
Thanks to everyone who turned out to wave the boys off on their way - tears, smiles, laughs... we had the works!
Desy Fraser(founder Without a Ribbon) with the boys before departure Big thanks to Channel 10 for the support and spreading the word