Duk-tales: Townsville Thunder – Day 3
On the Trail of Burke and Wills ! Monday 30th April, 2018
The day may as well have started at 3am at which time I awoke. This is on account of being in sync with my wife at home in Alice who also woke at this time and went to work. Work is an aphrodisiac to the Portuguese (damn, I missed out again). I managed to get back to sleep at 5am only to wake at the usual 6:30 and got ready for the day. Crackers sleeps thru anything as does Froggie. No sleep-in with the Heritage booked to put a Tyre at Mt Isa Motorcycles for 9am.
With the bike dropped off a short walk to the local Coffee Club where Grant and Tanya Jury rounded into our menu options. Good Coffee, Eggs Benedict with Salmon and good conversation, best way to start the day. Grant was wearing his NT Full Throttle Rally shirt, an endeared symbol to all who attended. It was quickly time to pick up the Tarmac Tractor and plough the highways so on the road again by 10:20am. The issue now was the 6 hour ride to Normanton but not to be deterred we set forth into the rolling magnificent road to Cloncurry. This would be one of my favourite 100k of road if it was able to be done at 130kph but alas the Hilux twin cab Ute that went over the side verge into a deep ravine told us that there are Queenslanders that cannot handle 100kph at this time. Still apart from the bozo towing a wide dual axle camper trailer without wide mirrors this was a very pleasant ride winding up and down etc. perfect start.
The locals have warned us that the Cops are having a blitz on Motorcyclists, a “Rider Safety” campaign they said so we need to be a bit wary. Cloncurry servo for another coffee and low and behold Baz and the Wagait Beach Bum were there already. As always a good yarn ensued. With about 200k’s to lunch Burke and Wills Roadhouse awaited. These boys were going to run east to decoy the coppers so we could take on a bit more motion. Early indications were gauged by the first bridge crossing being an unsealed pot-holed single lane bog, we may be in trouble. This was a test of slow rider skill weaving the heavy Harleys through the countless potholes. A short distance travelled and the massive spread of termite mounds imposed on my memory of yesterday where between Camooweal and Mt Isa the mounds were at minimum 3 meters diameter and 4 meters tall. Like massive lumps of dinosaur turds coating the ancient land.
The countryside to the north was strewn with stolen Devils Marbles only far more sparse and it was here, with another 60 clicks from lunchtime that a green Landcruiser rode up Froggies’ arse. As road captain again I made efforts to slow to 100 (oh! that’s the speed limit on this road isn’t it) in order to let her overtake but it took about 5 k’s to entice her. Once rounded she became the Scape-goat as I let her go until she was about 2 k’s in front then matched her speed at 125kph. Should the law ping her from the other direction she would get pulled over before the coppers knew we were there. Today was her lucky day. We caught up at Burke and Wills where the only fuel was 91 octane. Que Sera! A coffee, or beer for Geoff, and very friendly service from 2 young all American babes got Froggie contemplating an overnighter. With my lunch order they mistook the name Duktape for Dante but definitely wanted to know his name. No, onward says I. Stay the course. Lucky big fella Joe Cooper wasn’t on this trip or it would have been a competition tonight.
Another 100ks north and the plateau dropped off some 100 meters to a 30klm long spear-grass lowland. The grass was tall enough that we couldn’t see over it or through it then it became a stitch work of single lane and dual carriage with rough verges. Once through this region evidence was apparent that Marty Neverready never stopped mowing Johnnos Lawn at Kurumba 2 nights ago coz the sides were freshly mowed with clippings all over the road. I felt sure we’d cross Dobbie’s *Combine Harvester too. A two meter long black snake traversed the road to my left and turned up the highway. Crackers did not see it, ran over it lengthwise and flicked it up at Froggie. Good Shot! Just 40k’s to go, another distraction. This time a gorgeous young cowgirl waiting for a lift under some tall timber. Froggie’s the only one who’s got a spare helmet but I had gold fever (XXXX Gold that is, amber riches of liquid splendour) so did not slow down to give him time to consider. It was apparently here abouts that Crackers got hungry and copped a grasshopper in the corner of his mouth and face, a beaut splat to rival Off-road Ray’s Mt Buller trip effort 8 years ago.
The sign that greeted us at Normanton read “Mutton Hole Wetlands” – Got that Joe? I’m sure it’s a Kiwi holy land of some sort. With the bike parked at the Albion Hotel it was high time to do a Pub Crawl, all 3 of them. First the Albion, not quite cold beer and cold service so the 2nd round moved to the Central Hotel which was – you guessed it – in the middle of the 3 pubs. Very Cold Beer and warm reception. Excellent! Local Barra on the menu, might have to dine here. The famous Purple Pub also had very cold beer and reasonable atmosphere but the indigenous humbug was a show stopper so back to Central we went. Froggie liked this pub because they accidentally opened a Crownie for a client so gave it to Froggie free. The bummer was that the chef was away and there was no Barra left. Having been enticed to have Parmegana Schnitzel and Steak with a free round of beer it was a surprise when the free round was followed by 2 plates of crumbed Barra. A couple of locals did not get theres but Crackers and Froggie were happy. I had to be content with the Parmie.