We had fallen asleep to the awful jokes and music of a local country singer and spent the morning replying to comments curious elderly caravan tourists made about how hard it must be to travel the vast distances of Australia on a motorcycle which carried everything we owned. They were all real nice and meant well. But this obviously wasn’t our world and we were happy to escape it, hitting the open road with our freshly washed laundry strapped on top of the luggage to dry in the glorious sunshine.
Broome wasn’t far and we rolled into town by lunchtime. We had reached the north west coast of the continent and Aidan had a craving for fish. What better place to have lunch than the Wharf Restaurant tucked away at the tip of the industrial port area with views over the ocean?
We had heard that the coast north of Broome was riddled with beaches to wild camp on if you could reach them. The plan was to hole up there for a couple of days of holiday in paradise. So we rolled into the supermarket car park to stock up on food and wine. Ready to go I started up Lea forgetting she was in gear and promptly crashed into Pippa. Whoops! Luckily Aidan managed to keep her upright!
We rolled out of town, turned north and soon the tarmac turned to sand. But there was a nice strip of hard packed dirt to ride on. Aidan was well ahead as usual but I pulled over to let a caravan pass, anticipating it would be much faster being towed by a 4×4. I hadn’t considered the inevitable dust cloud rendering me half blind. I trusted the strip of hard packed dirt to continue and sped along.
I shouldn’t have! The front wheel hit deep sand, the handlebars flipped from side to side slapping the tank and Lea swerved like a furious snake on acid, keeling over further and further each time. I wrestled with her but the wheels refused to catch grip in the deep sand. It only lasted seconds but it felt like a decade. I wasn’t able to force her upright so I finally let go and somehow managed to half jump off.
I got up unhurt but Lea was a different story. We’d still been quite fast and she had slid along, the saddlebag ripping the top box clean off its fasteners. The bags were ripped too and Lea was leaking petrol. Miraculously our drinking water hadn’t leaked and even the wine and vodka bottles were still ok! My camera was still broken so the phone would have to do.
Unable to lift the tangled mess of bike and luggage I began to unload things when Aidan returned. We stood Lea back up and she started without a fuss. Sweet! She was unharmed. There was just the problem of how to reattach all the torn luggage. Now I was glad Aidan had brought that blue ratchet strap from the kind Germans in Coolalinga! I used it to tie the top box holder back on and then piled everything on, tying it down as best I could with bungee cords and plastic bags.
It was all very wobbly and I was shaking like a leaf now that the adrenaline had worn off. A couple of guys in a loaded UTE stopped to check if we were ok and whether we wanted a beer. But we didn’t want to rinse their beach supplies and ours had survived. So they went on their way having given us lots of tips which beaches were best.
Needless to say my confidence had taken a big knock so I was crawling along. Today was definitely not my day! The luggage was wobbling precariously behind me and I couldn’t afford to do more damage with another fall. Soon the hard packed dirt disappeared and we were wrestling the bikes through deep sand and round blind bends. The further we went the fewer cars we met and I began fantasising about a vodka lime and lemonade on a deserted beach by sunset.
Then about a dozen or so 4x4s overtook us in a big dust cloud and when we reached our chosen beach the best spots had been taken. Damn. My jinxed day hadn’t left me alone yet it seems. The sun would be setting imminently and we weren’t willing to wrestle the bikes further north in the dark. Instead we found a deserted spot further in the dunes. It didn’t have sea views but it had trees for shade and was cosy and peaceful.
It was dark by the time we’d pitched and cooked dinner. All the while we heard a strange rustling sound all around. But every time we shone the torch in the relevant direction we couldn’t see anything move. We began guessing what wild creatures could be closing in on us. I believe there was even a mention of lizards on bicycles. But that was just silly. So we chose to ignore the world and watch a movie instead.
In the morning some strange tracks all over the sand with no distinct foot prints seemed to support the lizards on bicycles idea.
The day was spent fixing the bikes. The air filters desperately needed to be emptied of sand and dust. I had to sew the saddle bags back together as best I could and I also found a way of bolting the top box holder back on in a couple of places. Combined with the blue ratchet strap that should get me all the way to Perth.
The hard work done we relaxed, sipping vodka lime and lemonades listening to music and catching up with our diaries.
We climbed over the dunes sliding down the red cliff like rock on the other side to go for a swim. There was no one about. Only a few sea eagles circled overhead. I don’t think there were any crocodiles but the waves seemed powerful and not being a very strong swimmer I wasn’t going to try my luck with any rips. A refreshing splash-about in the shallow waves would have to do. It was heavenly.
There were lots of pretty little wildflowers all over the dunes and I ran riot with Aidan’s camera.
Aidan ran riot with his camera too.
That evening we cooked dinner on on a little bonfire and sat up watching the stars come out chatting about this and that.
Once the fire had died down those rustling noises began again. And they seemed to be closing in on us. Aidan tiptoed off to fetch the torch and the camera without scaring whatever it was away. Then we sat very still, waiting for the sounds to come closer again. By this time I was imagining dingoes, echidnas or something big and strange Australian I had never heard of before.
The first camera flash revealed nothing. Then we switched the torch on and burst out laughing. It was hermit crabs! Makes sense, being on a beach and all.
The next day we wrestled the bikes back along the sandy path to the road. Lea’s engine made a nasty screeching sound as she tried to heave her weight through the powdery dunes. I had a sinking feeling the clutch plates might need changing. From then on she would make that noise every morning.
Once back on the orange dust road the going was a lot easier than I remembered it. My luck and confidence were obviously back. All it took was a few too many vodka lime and lemonades on the beach 🙂