Northern Territory 1976

Motorcycle Trips

In 1976 a trip to Alice Springs was planned with a stop over at Maroochydore on Queensland's Sunshine Coast for swimming, fishing and general relaxation. Not many photographs remain of that trip and the ones that do have been ravaged by time. Here is one showing the two packed bikes minus rider and pillions that made the trip.

Gold Wing and R60/5 
Honda 1000 Gold Wing and BMW R60/5 - packed and ready to go.

The trip to Maroochydore was fairly uneventful with filling up for petrol the main objective of the day's travel.

A few days was spent in a flat at Maroochydore so the tents were put away and some fishing and general touring eventuated. Even in 1976 the Sunshine Coast had plenty of touristy things to see and do.

Maroochydore is an urban centre on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. At the 2011 Australian Census the urban area recorded a population of 47,645. Wikipedia 

The next main was at Rockhampton and the crossing into the tropics. (Tropic of Capricorn).

Rockhampton is a city and local government area in Queensland, Australia. The city lies on the Fitzroy River, approximately 45 kilometres from the river mouth, and some 600 kilometres north of the state capital, Brisbane. Wikipedia It is considered to be the fourth largest regional city in the state outside of the cities of South East Queensland

Winton, Queensland - birthplace of Qantas
Winton Folk Museum. Queensland

Rockhampton to Mt Isa had us stopping at a few places along the way, visiting the birthplace of QANTAS etc. We travelled through Blackwater, Emerald, Alpha, Barcaldine, Ilfracombe, Longreach, Winton and Cloncurry before reaching Mt Isa. 

Mt Isa to Northern Territory was eventful. The advisory for the road was "do not use" but being young and fool hardy we went anyway. The road was very slippery after heavy rain and the going was slow. After the wet disappeared large tracts of bulldust were encountered. I can remember one event where the suspension bottomed out and the pannier frame was caught under the rear axle. That is one way of lowering the bike in a hurry! Another time, at about 70 miles per hour, we hit bulldust and it slowed us almost immediatley to a stop.

Mount Isa is a city in the Gulf Country region of Queensland, Australia. It came into existence because of the vast mineral deposits found in the area. Wikipedia 

Near Tennant Creek
Somewhere before Tennant Creek

We had a stop over at Three Ways / Tennant Creek before spending a few days in Alice Springs playing tourist and generally regenerating our weary bodies.

John Flynn Memorial
John Flynn Memorial - Flynn of the Inland

The monument commemorates pioneer churchman and founder of the Flying Doctor Service.
John Flynn OBE (25 November 1880 – 5 May 1951) was an Australian Presbyterian minister who founded the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the world's first air ambulance.

The Town of Alice Springs is a local government area in the Northern Territory. On 1 July 1971, Alice Springs was gazetted as a Municipality with the town council elected on 25 July 1971. It is situated 1,498 kilometres south of the Darwin. Wikipedia 

Alice to Ayers Rock, now maybe better known as Uluru, was speedy until we hit the dirt just after turning off the highway that continued onto Adelaide. From memory it took about 8 hours to ride the road to the Rock and coming back it only took 3 hours. Re-grading the road in-between the two trips worked wonders. Before grading the corrugations were so bad that if you dropped below 50 miles per hour (80km/h) you had to reduce your speed to a crawling pace until you could once again get above the corrugations. After grading the road the corrugations had gone and it was just piles of sand, dirt and gravel that you had to worry about.

19 kms from Kulgera
19 kms from Kulgera

Rejoining the Stuart Highway, we stopped for a quick photo shoot 19 kilometres from Kulgera close to the Northern Territory / South Australia border.  We then made Coober Pedy in very quick time enjoying the bitumen and what it had to offer.

Coober Pedy camp site
Coober Pedy camp site - note the tent peg barely in the stony ground.

At Coober Pedy it was virtually impossible to get a tent peg to puncture the rock surface of the camping ground. We spent two days there and all of them spent in the air conditioned road house. It was too hot for anything else except for a tour of one of the underground houses. The temperature dropped instantly by many degrees as soon as you went underground. Wish the caravan park had underground camp sites!

Coober Pedy is a town in northern South Australia, 846 kilometres north of Adelaide on the Stuart Highway. According to the 2011 census, its population was 1,695. Wikipedia

The trip from Coober Pedy to Melbourne was a blur. Stops were for petrol and food.

Even with the many high speed trips at the Northern Territory speed limited and the crawling through the mud and bulldust the bike managed a healthy 51 mile per gallon (that is UK miles per gallon although on the return trip from Ayers Rock to the main road it managed 81 miles per gallon mainly due to the lower speed through the gravel and sand).

The whole trip was planned using road maps, telephones and posted letters.  No mobile phones, GPS Satellite Navigation route mapping.  All the caravan parks / accommodation was booked and if required a deposit sent through the snail mail system using cheques or money orders / postal notes.  How much easier is it today with email, GPS and instantaneous money transfers?  Even motorcycle technology has marched forward in many ways.


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