Northern Territory 1983 - 84

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The Northern Territory trip was only supposed to be for about 12 weeks that ended up being around 2 years. The company I was working for in Melbourne sent me to Alice Springs where I ended up spending nearly 12 months. I was then moved up to Dawin for another 10 months. When I left Melbourne I flew to Alice Springs, thinking I'd be back in three months and at about this time, after realising that the stay was going to be longer I purchased the Honda XR500-RC. This was Central Australia so I thought the Honda was a wise choice, you know all those wide open spaces.

Before leaving the Northern Territory I made the mistake of selling the Honda XR500-RC as it's a bit hard to ride two bikes back. Thinking back I should have had it shipped home. One thing to remember when you rode this type of bike in the Territory was it was very easy to get lost, no GPS back then!! Everytime I went out for a ride I would always keep the radio towers on top of the Macdonald Ranges in sight.

 
 
       

I still owned the Kawasaki but it was back in Melbourne and a couple of months after buying Honda a friend in Melbourne packed it up and it was shipped to Alice Springs. In transit the Kawasaki fuel tank got damaged even though the bike was packed the same as if it was new. The transport company had packed some heavy items on top of the carbon and with the continual pounding of the South Road it ended up pushing the fuel cap into the tank. With the Kawasaki now in Alice Springs I had the best of both worlds.

The first time I rode from Alice Springs to Darwin I only had four days off. This meant I wanted to be able to ride to Darwin in one day as you cannot ride at night-time because of livestock. I left Alice Springs as soon as it was light, 12 1/2 hours later and 1515km I was in Darwin. You had to work your speed out according to the fuel stops because there are not that many garages along the way, sure you go faster but you would have run out of fuel before the next garage.

     
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The Northern Territory is not the place to get a knee down, no winding coast or mountain roads out here. You could say it is the complete opposite as some of the roads are straight as far as the eye can see. The time I spent in Northern Territory the open road had unlimited speed limits. It's the only time I have passed a police car doing about 150 kph, he was traveling at about 130kph.

Northern Territory was a different type of riding, it's certainly tested your endurance. If you want to see what it's like to be the only person for as far as you can see in any direction as well as see some amazing scenery I strongly recommend checking out central Australia. Remember one thing though, nothing is just around the corner in the Northern Territory.

 

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Heading out on a ride to Ross River. This was my first outing on the new Honda XR500.

   

It did actually rain in Alice Springs. I actually saw the Todd River flood a couple of times while I was there.

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Alice Springs to Darwin in one day can I do it? Back in 1984 the road between Alice Springs and Darwin was sealed all the way, but a lot of it was only single lane for both directions. When a road train came in the opposite direction the best thing to do was to slow down and pull off into the dirt and allow him to pass on the sealed section of road. if you forced him into the dirt you got showered by rocks.

   

Stopping in the middle of the road for a photo opportunity was never a real problem as you could see on some of the straight stretches from one horizon to the other. This photo was taken heading back to Alice Springs from Darwin on one of the better sections of road.

 
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My first time in Darwin so I spent the day doing all the touristy things. One thing about Darwin its either hot and dry or hot and humid. In the wet season the afternoon storms were amazing and the rain came down in bucketloads but half an hour later it was all gone. Also in the wet season if you stood still for too long something would grow on you.

   

It's good to see that somebody in the local government has a sense of humour. This was on the road heading out to Berry springs just south of Darwin. One of the local swimming holes, crystal clear water. You have to be careful where you choose to swim as some of the locals are not that friendly, such as the saltwater crocodile.

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This was taken on the road heading back to Alice Springs. Out here you really get to understand how big this country is, as far as I can see in all directions and it's only just me.

   

A lot of roadworks were being done to the Stuart Hwy in the time I spent in the Northern Territory. You would often be riding on a dirt track alongside of the roadwork's being performed on the Stuart Hwy.

 
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In Alice Springs I worked in the Casino. I met a lot of great people that also worked at the Casino. We would often head off on the bikes. This was the trip to Barrow Creek.

   

Photo opportunity! Crossing over Tropic of Capricorn which goes through the Northern Territory just north of Alice Springs. Martin was the owner of the Kawasaki GT-750.

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We arrived at Barrow Greek late in the afternoon and parked at the pub. It's about 300 km north of Alice Springs. You will find a garage, a general store and a pub, every thing you need!

   

Not long after we arrived at Barrow Creek a friend who also worked at the Casino who was heading back from Queensland also arrived on his BMW. As he had to work that night he headed off later.

 
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This is looking out the front door of the Barrow Creek Bar. I think one of the best ways to see the sun go down over the red Centre of Australia. We ended up spending most of the night on the front veranda of the pub and when we asked the publican what time the bar was closing, he answered, when we leave. We ended up camping on the lawn around the side of the pub.

   

The next day on the way back to Alice Springs we stopped for lunch at the pub in Ti Tree. You will find Ti Tree about halfway between Barrow Creek and Alice Springs on the Stuart highway. Like Barrow Creek it is just a general store, a garage and also a pub.

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This roadside marker was to indicate that you are near the geometrical centre point of Australia. Somebody has taken the plaque and written their own message. Quite humorous considering the location.

   

More dirt sidetrack's running along the side of the Stuart Highway while upgrades are being done. You had to keep your eyes open on the side tracks for bad pot holes and corrugation.

 
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In the Northern Territory I gave the Kawasaki Z1000-J a facelift. Repaired and repainted the whole bike in the gloss black. The finished product looked pretty good I think.

   

Time in the NT was over. This was taken early in the morning just outside of Katherine heading for Queensland. As you can see the Kawasaki was quite loaded. Day 1, Darwin to Camooweal just over the border in Queensland, 1420km.

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Met up with a guy riding a Kawasaki Z650. Rode until Three Ways where I continued on to Camooweal. The last part into Camooweal was well after the Sun had set, not very smart, animals everywhere.

   

Continued across to Townsville and arrived just after dark. Then continued on to Rockhampton and arrived about 4am. Hard ride, 3220km in two days. Also, the fact that it was in October made it very hot.

 
 
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