The epic adventure has come to an end after more than 8000 kilometres, 31 days, two tyre changes, two overloaded bikes and; 28 hours wrangling a ‘quick erect’ tent morning and night - we are back!
It took some adjusting to not moving to the middle of lane when we are driving on the road, not needing transportable meals and not needing to check the weather patterns, fuel consumption rates and mentally bracing for headwinds or rain.
The weather did play havoc with some of our original plans and we did need to adjust our original itinerary. Pushed South we tried to reach Birdsville via Innamincka, on a road appropriately named the Adventure Way.
A moment of adventure/insanity from Neil along this route resulted in a bike drop causing pannier bags to come off. This put a kink in the original planned destination, so we had to make do and just find the nearest campsite. The campsite turned out to be next to the Noccundra Hotel a picturesque spot on the Wilson River that was overrun with all different types of wildlife.
The heritage-listed stone-constructed hotel was a great find and we settled in for dinner and drinks. When the menu and food came out we were pleasantly surprised. The Chef prepared gourmet meals that would put a Sydney foodie bolthole to shame.
We arrived at Innamincka to learn that unseasonal rains had literally washed away our Simpson Desert dream and that original leg of the trip.
The silver lining was the ‘Plan B’ route exploring the Flinders Ranges that had some of the most spectacular and mind-melding scenery. Driving along the old Strzelecki and Mount Hopeless access road to Arkaroola and the Flinders Ranges, felt like we were traversing the surface of the moon.
One of the most challenging parts of the trip was what we refer to as the ‘Great Escape from Arkaroola to Adelaide’. After days of being stuck at Arkaroola Station due to rains and closed roads, we managed to escape to the highway via the Umberatana and Yakaninna Station tracks. Quite the challenge with the big adventure bikes fully loaded.
From Adelaide we pushed through the Nullabor’s relentless winds. This took three days before eventually meeting up with the MAXTRAX crew and spent the next leg of the trip, winding our way around the beautiful and rugged coastline of the Bite. Western Australia did not disappoint with beaches with the whitest of sand, like Lucky Bay within Cape Le Grand National Park, Esperance and Albany.
The MAXTRAX fleet of vehicles made their way home from Albany to Brisbane, having got all the footage All Terrain TV needed to cut together a documentary that does justice to explorer John Edward Eyre.
For the last leg of the trip, we (Neil and co-rider Owen Bawden), made our way around to Perth through the spectacular Karri Forests and coastlines of Margaret River.
In Perth we washed and stripped back the bikes before loading them into a freight container and with their fingers-crossed, made their way safely across the country. For the final part of the trip, we were glad to take the easier option and flew back from Perth to Brisbane.
Our loyal mechanical chariots, now returned via a freight service to Brisbane, with a few more kilometres on their dials. They might wait a few weeks before we saddle them up again but we are already preparing for the next (maybe less ambitious in terms of kilometres) adventure!