BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Friday, 19 August 2016

Is Tom Price the "Oasis" in the Pilbara it's claimed to be?


After saying our farewells to our wonderful Exmouth hosts, we made our early start on our transport section today and were on the road just after seven. A fat lot of good it did us as about twenty ks down the road we saw what we thought were thick, dark clouds, dumping copious amounts of heavy rain. We were wrong. It was fog! Fog? What the?

We made a quick stop to throw our wet weather gear on and rode into the mist. It got thicker, and thicker. What he hell was happening? Pretty soon out visibility was down to about 50 meters, and our progress suffered accordingly. It's pretty exciting when a big four wheel drive towing a huge caravan comes out of the fog towards you. Why don't people turn their head lights on in these conditions?

This was the start of the fog, before it got thick, but it was still thick enough for us to stop and put our wets on.

After about an hour or so of of fog we were back in the clear. After stopping to take off our wet weather gear and clean our visors we lifted the pace and got a move on. We had some time to make up.

Well, we got a move on for a while. Our next obstacle was some major road works. I'm not sure just how long we were held up for, but it was long enough for me to hang my washing from yesterday on the bike, and for it to dry. At least I had some nice clean, dry T Shirts to wear now. We enjoyed a chat with the lady operating the stop / go sign while we waited to get through.

After the third lot of road works we were back on the bitumen and ready to go, but the speed limit was 60 kph. We sneaked over a little ...and a Police car went past in the other direction. Both Andrew and my heads pivoted around to watch the mirrors, but there was no response from the boys in blue. Whew!

We'd only ridden a few hundred kilometres. We'd made five stops already and our average speed was abysmal. We're never going to get there.

OK, OK, I get the message, there are stray animals EVERYWHERE out here.

Another hour down the road and Andrew decided to pull over for a break because he was nodding off. I must have been as well because I didn't notice him slowing down, and nearly ran into the back of him. OK, time for a break. We walked around, drank some water, scratched our bums, and took photos of a few of the wild flowers. Anything to try and wake up. It's not wild flower season yet, but after the record wet season they've had up here a few of them are popping up early.

Our next stop was at Nanutarra Roadhouse for lunch. Here we met a guy who had ridden a Royal Enfield from Darwin. 

These things are a 500cc, single cylinder bike that is OK up to about 80 kph. It's a bloody long way to Nanutarra from Darwin at 80 ks per hour...and they vibrate like mad. The vibrations were so bad that his fuel tank had cracked yesterday and was leaking pretty badly. A local said he'd weld it for him. Welding fuel tanks is an inherently dangerous task. For some reason the fumes in the tank go bang if the meet an ignition source. For this reason it is VERY hard to find people who will weld them up.

Here is where I learnt a new trick. The repairer filled the tank full of dry ice. Apparently the dry ice reacts with the petrol fumes and turns them into in an inert gas. WARNING: Do not try this at home. So our Royal Enfield rider was back on the road and continuing his trip. Good luck mate.

Where in hell is Nanutarra Roadhouse

you ask?

We had made up a little time and were doing OK, even with a few more stops to shake ourselves awake. I don't know why we were both struggling today. Leaving Exmouth early had paid off as it turned out. We still had a bit of time up our sleeves.

At least now the scenery was getting a little more interesting after lots of nothing. Western Australia has some magnificent natural features that are stunning to see, but they are a bloody long way apart.

Even a small hill on the side of the road was interesting to us.

Ohh! A pile of rocks.
These rocks were actually pretty amazing.
The colours went from soft pinks to harsh reds, and everything in between.

There were more of these guys out searching for food, and they were getting bigger.

We refueled at Paraburdoo. We'd noticed that both bikes had been using about the same amount of fuel. At this refuel thy used exactly the same amount of fuel. I told you little things become interesting when you've been riding in a straight line for too long.

At last, some real warmth.

We were now on the home straight to Tom Price. Only another 80 km to go.

It was good to come to a stop at The Tom Price Tourist Park. We had booked a backpackers as it was only $50 a night each. Luckily we had it to ourselves and didn't have to share. (Yes, I'm an only child and don't like sharing).

It was Tom Price Show weekend, so town was jumping. All the usual side show suspects were there. Bumper cars, show bags, scary rides and all the other things. I was hoping Andrew would win me a big, stuffed, pink unicorn, but he didn't even try.

The band was pretty good...

...and the bar area was busy.

Tomorrow we do Karijini National Park. I've heard a lot about this place so I'm looking forward to seeing it. We booked a tour so we could leave the bikes behind, kick back in the bus, relax, and get some local input on the area. A lot of the gorges are only accessible by four wheel drive, and while Andrew and I are happy to ride a bit of dirt, we don't want to do hours and hours of it, so a tour is the easy way out. To our dismay we were the only two who had booked, so they canned our tour.

We'll have to rely on our wits and run our own tour on our bikes.

Nothing could go wrong with that, could it?

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