Day 3. Proserpine, Ingham, Richmond, Winton
At 5am Queensland time this morning it was already 34 degrees. After some oats, sultanas/pineapple and yoghurt for breaky and a three sachet cup of coffee scoffed the bike was packed quickly and I was on my way north. The ride up to Townsville was very picturesque and the traffic wasn’t too heavy. I fuelled up just north of Townsville and for the first time in the trip filled the 4 litre Rotopax jerry can because I wasn’t sure about fuel availability from then on. Then I rode on to the northernmost leg of this trip, a photo to be taken at Ingham.
Here a lack of planning for the trip jumped up and bit me on the ass again. I had seen on some maps that there was a “Developmental Road” shortcut once I started to head south that would take me to Charters Towers cutting off a substantial distance compared to travelling back to Townsville before turning west. I wasted about 30 minutes trying to find it, the GPS refused to provide it as an option and while Apple’s new map application on my iPad had no problem showing the route, it just didn’t make any sense in terms of where the turnoffs should have been. A search for signs or any other indications of where the road might be failed so in the end I gave up and headed the long way back to Townsville.
The day was hot again, temps at 40 – 41 before midday and by the time I got to Charters Towers I needed to seek refuge in some air conditioning and drink lots of fluids. On that part of the route the GPS also died. It seems the powered mount for the TomTom stopped charging it and the internal battery went flat. So I finally decided to grab a paper map, because once again I forgot to pack my Motorcycle Atlas while rushing out the door.
The road from Charters Towers to Hughenden was lightly trafficked and I was making good time until I caught up to a Police 4WD following a petrified car that refused to go even close to the speed limit with the boys in blue about. I decided to take the risk despite the double demerits on offer and overtook both on a long straight being very careful not to go over the speed limit using the GPS speed reported, not the speedo on the Super Tenere. All good and I slowly crept away from both.
A while later I saw the white of the police vehicle creeping up on me so I checked my speed and waited. The boys passed me by, clearly now a little more impatient to get where they were going so based on the assumption that they would not be breaking any laws without using their lights and sirens I kept a respectful distance behind them, but kept up. They turned off at a little town further on and gave me a wave and a smile as I rode past and I resumed my normal riding routine.
At Hughenden I decided to get some fuel although I was reasonably sure I had enough to get to Richmond in a pinch and had the jerry can as a backup if it fell short. Premium unleaded was a little hard to come by with two of the service stations I pulled into not having it because the heat of the day was playing havoc with the pumps. I decided to push on to Richmond but about 10ks out was hit by a wicked cross wind and fuel economy plummeted. My confidence level was low, the heat was high, and the decision making processes a bit muddy. I wasn’t really sure what was at Richmond so I went about and rode back to Hughenden, visited the third service station (the Caltex) where I did find premium unleaded. I asked the attendant if there was fuel and accommodation in Richmond and she said “Sure, it’s bigger than here” I said, “Of course it is.” I’d confirmed once again that I’d wasted more time riding back here.
Interesting Garbage Bin covers in Richmond
The cross wind was nasty heading to Richmond and the road was very ordinary. I was grateful for the S10’s long travel suspension, it was well used over floodways and the uneven road surface. The last time I rode this way was on my Harley Davidson and I recall some kidney crunching moments and although the road was in a worse state this time the ride was much better. I reached Richmond in daylight and stopped for a photo at Kronosaurus Korner, some fuel and a big drink of cold water.
I spoke to some locals about the Richmond Winton Road to the Landsborough Highway I’d seen on the map heading south from Richmond and was warned off it as a result of some recent rain, storms already about the area and the impending darkness. I needed to make Winton tonight so that the next two days riding were easily achievable to ensure I made it home on Friday. So the second option was chosen, back into the cross winds and back to Hughenden and down the Kennedy Developmental Road.
I called my wife and asked her if she could organize some accommodation for me in Winton and send me the details via SMS. If she had no luck then Hughenden would be the rest stop for the night.
I reached Hughenden just as the sun was disappearing and the SMS with the details of the hotel in Winton had arrived, thanks darling! Without the GPS I wasn’t really sure how far it was to Winton but I guessed it was about 170ks so fuel would be OK. On the way out of town I looked at all the signs to Winton and none of them had the distance until just past the town I saw a sign that said “No fuel for 206kms” (insert profanity here). I didn’t fancy using the jerry in the dark so back into town I went and filled up with unleaded, the service station with the premium was closed.
By the time I left Hughenden darkness had fallen and thunderstorms were building in the direction I was heading. I wasn’t really all that keen about riding this leg at night and the sign indicating that there were “Kangaroos” for the next 200kms confirmed that care was required. I lost count of the number of kangaroos I saw on or close to the road and was grateful for the immense light from the ONX LED light bar I have on the Super Tenere. Not only were there kangaroos, alive and dead all over the road there were also pigs, cows and heaven knows what else out there ready to dance across the road in my path. Then the thunderstorm hit.
I stopped in the dark to do up the vents in my Klim Latitude jacket and put on the wet weather gloves. I stoopidly turned the Super Tenere off and removed the key from the ignition realizing I was now in pitch black in the rain and couldn’t see a thing. I had actually planned for that so I fumbled around, put the key back in and started the bike. I grabbed the led torch from the tank bag and used the spare key I keep in my jacket to access the top box and panniers. Ready to ride in the wet without getting too wet I was soon on my way but the first thing I noticed is that the LED Light Bar was no longer working and I was riding with high beam only. Insert another profanity here. I didn’t see as many roos and pigs from here on, but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.
I arrived at Winton about 9.20pm and found the Outback Motel. I have been to Winton before and luckily had an idea where it was. I checked in and was told there wasn’t anywhere open to get some food so another night of instant oats, sultanas and pineapple main course was devoured. Tonight I couldn’t be bothered getting ready for a quick exit in the morning, I just dropped everything on the floor, had a shower and hit the sack.
A big day’s ride today, over 1300kms in the heat, plenty of things went wrong, I confirmed once again I need to plan these rides much better, loved it!