Tasmania - Darwin Express


I though I had lost this report. The ride is from back in September 2012.


7TE........well this is what I first called the run. The first attempt planned in April 2012 was postponed once I received a text from the ferry company just after completing a SS1600K run to Melbourne, that the ferry to Tasmania was going to set sail some three hours late, just not enough time for the turnaround……… then after a few months, finally success in September!!

Where did it all start? After completing the Trans Australia Quest I was looking for the next challenge. It came with a coffee whilst sitting discussing all things long distance with ‘Drain (Tabledrain – Ian). He mentioned some of his future plans, one of them being the one he had his dust up with the roo, however the one we discussed a Trans Oz being done north/south.

This was it, my new challenge had arrived thanks to Ian. The main run was to go from Southport at the bottom of Tasmania up to Darwin. Of interest in planning this ride, was that the distance covered by the ferry did not count but the time on the ferry did. My intent was to do a SS1600K down to Melbourne finishing in the evening just in time to catch the ferry across, then the next morning when the ferry docked ride straight down to Southport, obtain the required documentation and start the trip, then straight back up to catch the ferry over to the mainland and continue up to Darwin. Just to add a bit more challenge for myself, I would also attempt a 50CC from Melbourne to Darwin. There was another planned ride after Darwin but I cancelled that after a bit of a mishap, more of that later.

So was born the 7TE…..Taking The Tassie Tiger To The Top End

My planned route to Melbourne was simple, Brisbane, Sydney, Albury, Melbourne. It is very interesting to note the changes over the years of this highway. Mostly now 110Kph, with some hold ups with road works around Coffs Harbour and Holbrook in NSW. This run took around nineteen hours and left some good time up my sleeve for the long wait to get onto the ferry.

I took the choice of the layback seats for the ferry ride down and back, which was ok but on my next trip to Tassie I will definitely book a sleeping compartment.

Nice things happen on our runs and for me it was the pleasure of meeting some very helpful people and in Tassie I was lucky enough to catch up with PeterC who felt that he need a bit of a ride after his last escapade to see how his ride fitness was, well I must say, it was pretty good as he did not muck around up through those hills and it was great to ride with you Peter and thanks for your moral support when we found that there was no fuel at Southport, so we picked up a start receipt without getting fuel. My low fuel light had been on for some time so I had a bit of a nervous moment but luckily about ten kilometres back was another town with fuel, all good. All the documentation done, then off back to the ferry and a farewell to Peter.

Into Melbourne, documentation done, fuelled up the spare fuel containers and off. Nice simple run up to Port Augusta, not, well first off I got to the other side to the bridge in Melbourne and took an early turn of which made me go back over the bridge and circle back again. Then in Adelaide I took some back streets that I should not have but eventually found my way out the other side, well that was three things for the ride so I should be right now.

Stopped a Port Augusta for a bit to eat and top up fuel and water, I now needed to make Spuds Roadhouse before it closed and also hope it did not close early as they sometimes do. All good, made Spuds around 8.30pm SA time, refuelled, had a chat about the kangaroos further up and off to Coober Pedy 24Hr fuel. After here I knew it was time for sleep and found the closest IBA motel pulled in, jumped up onto a table with all my gear on and decided that I would just sleep until my body had enough, I knew that I had reached a turning point and that the run had finished because my body was telling me so, tough decision but I did want to get home. I awoke some 3 and a half hours later feeling so much better for the sleep and it was back into play, its still on!!

The run continued on through the day with a sense of awe and peace with what we are so lucky to have in this wonderful country we call home. Brilliant scenery what a country!!

Starting to come on dark not long after Tennant Creek and my eyes were scanning the roadside constantly as the roo population had well and truly grown in numbers. For the rest of the trip I was amazed at the amount of roos around, I had never seen this many.

Normally when travelling at night I am not on the normal speed limit and definitely not the NT limit, I had slowed down to around 90Kph and when vehicles came in the opposite direct I would more than likely be around 50Kph. Well not this time, for reasons I cannot explain I maintained the around 90Kph speed as an oncoming roadtrain was about to pass, …… bugger me a bloody roo from my left shot out like an exocet missile….. open the throttle as much as I could …….throttle this kamikaze roo if I could…..bang……..steering going from side to side ….roadtrain alongside now……control the steering……breath you idiot…..I’m still here, bloody hell…….why was I travelling at that speed in the first place?

Back to normal now, time to analyse what had just happened, my thoughts were that had I attempted to break without ABS there would have been a good chance of locking the back wheel up and ending up under the roadtrain, my bike weight, including me must give me a scientific chance with my speed to better the roo, well that is what my thought process was at the time, right or wrong I had made it……..hang on that’s four things that have happened…bugger. Little further up the road time for another sleep before the final push onto Darwin.

The final part of the trip was ever so slow, sitting watching the roos and…what’s this? Bloody big white cow having a feed on the side of the road, very ghostly that was.

Arrive in Darwin about 5 minutes after my planned arrival time but still with time up my sleeve. I was met at the servo by Rod who took me down to Ox’s Gully, sorry Doctors Gully for a photo with the Tassie Tiger then off around to his place for a shower and a running repair on the bike which unfortunately only lasted until I got onto the road then I had another attempt at WendyL, from OzSTOC, place to fix it again. To Rod and Wendy thank you both for your wonderful support, it was very much appreciated.

The run from Darwin to home was to include another IBA run but the altercation with the roo had unsettled me and night travel was off the books…..well for a little while….it took until my last day/night on the run home to convince myself to attempt the night run again…….and it was raining. Still lots of roos around but the lights did their job and me…..well, back to slowing right down with oncoming vehicles and all was good with riding again.

To all the riders who have offered and given support in our long distance community, thank you one and all.