Uncertainty doesn’t make life worth living, quite, but it does make striving and gambling worth attempting – Walter Kirn

Day Seven of my motorcycle tour of outback Queensland started with a leisurely coffee in my motel room, it was the first time I had stayed in a motel so far on this journey. I’m not sure how I felt about it. For some reason I miss the early morning ritual of rolling off my camp stretcher and stumbling up on my knees, then squeezing out of my tent.

In Australia there is a habit of betting on everything that moves, from flies on the wall to yabbies at the local river, usually in the confines of a local pub. The problem with betting on flies in the outback is that there are soo many of them and they all look the same. So knowing which one actually won the race is problematic. Chickens on then other hand can be sprayed with coloured powder without actually killing them in the process. 

If you have just arrived on this page and want to hear how my motorcycle tour of outback Queensland began, click on the following link: Day One – Motorcycle tour of Outback Queensland

Time to wash

When I got to town I heard about the world famous chicken racing circuit, I thought it appropriate to clean up before venturing out. It was fortuitous that the stadium was opposite my motel at The Royal Carrangarra Hotel. Where else I thought, may be this is why I had packed to meet the Queen. It has been billed as a rival to the almost as famous Melbourne Cup. Dinner was at the Royal Carrangarra Hotel, home to Ben’s Chicken Racing. This quote from Ben’s web site says it all

“The most ridiculous and entertaining thing I have ever seen.  Chicken Racing, who would have thought!” Shellie, July 2021.

Click on the following link World Famous Chicken Racing

Having taken my time, washing some clothes and having a shower, I got to the bar of the Royal Carrangarra Hotel just as the chickens were finishing their first race. I was keen to order a pub meal and was told that if I wanted to order before the races were complete I should have done so before 5.30 pm. The penance is that would now have to wait inline for the large crowd that was to form after the races.

It was now 5.40pm and I was out of luck and destined to wait. I grabbed a schooner of ale and headed outback to participate in the racing activity. 

Main Street of Tambo as the sun at sunrise. This is the scene of the World Famous Chicken races.

Racing chickens of all colours

The chicken races were spectacular and not for the faint at heart. Unfortunately, my chicken picking abilities corresponds to my horse picking ability in my once yearly bet on the Melbourne Cup and I ended up donating a lot of money to the Royal Flying Doctor service. Definitely a worthwhile cause and life line for outback communities.

Having decided that chicken racing was not going to make me rich and I was probably going to h ave to go back to work after my motorcycle tour of Queensland. I retired to the line of people in the main bar ordering dinner. After waiting a staggering two minutes for the three people in front of me to order, I decided it was only appropriate to order Chicken Parmigiana. More than likely the poor chicken who ran last in each race (my chicken). I did notice some strange blue powder on the side of the plate, still survival of the the fittest (fastest) I guess.

Tambo Teddy Bears

Tambo boasts two world famous attractions, the first being the world famous chicken races, the second being that it’s the home to the Tambo Teddy Bear. Rumour has it, that Tambo is the location of the Teddy Bear’s Picnic. But this has yet to be confirmed by empirical research.

Tambo Teddy Bears are born here. This is the site of the original Teddy Bear’s Picnic.

The next day on my tour of outback Queensland

Everywhere in Tambo there are reminders of the humble teddy bear. Unfortunately, it was too early for me to acquire my very own Tambo Teddy Bear, which would have been a great mascot for my motorcycle tour in 2022. Unfortunately, it was nowhere near opening hour and I had a relative long and probably technical track ride today.

After packing my gear onto Emu and securing it, I rode around to the front office to drop off the key. In one of the front units I ran into Dave and Emma (not their real names of course). This couple had caught up to me while I was taking a break just out of Longreach the day before, we had talked about what it takes to plan a motorcycle tour of Australia. Emma was an incredibly talented and experience biker and had given me great advice about riding position to avoid the wind shear.

The people you meet on a motorcycle tour of outback Queensland
Dave and Emma. Daves riding a FJR1100 Touring Bike while Emma is on a 1200 Harley Tourer.

They were taking a quick outback spin in preparation for a ride around Australia in 2022. Both experienced riders and awesome people. It just goes to show the depth of bikers in Australia.

Throughout my motorcycle tour of outback Queensland, I have met the most friendly people. There’s definitely a shared camaraderie with travellers out here. I wished them safe travels and managed to find a bakery where I could fuel up with Pie and hot coffee, then onto the petrol station for Emu.

My plan today was to ride up the Wilderness Way through the western side of Carnarvon Gorge. But before I took off I wanted to know the track condition and if there were any problems I should be aware of.

The people you meet make the journey so much more interesting

Stopping at the visitor information centre I discussed my route with the lovely young girl at the counter. She showed me on the map where the road started and told me about a little bit of track repair on the western side. There was another man in the centre who was also going that way in his Ranger 4*4.

We talked about the Ranger, because I have the exact same model and where he was from. Apparently, he and his wife were travelling from Melbourne and they wanted to see Salvator Rosa, so they were leaving their caravan behind and intending to camp in swags at the park.

Throughout the day we would pass each other and check in, they were great and kept an eye on me all day, often lamenting on the deep sand and wondering if I had come off after seeing the snake like pattern of my tire groves in the soft sand. We had morning tea and lunch together before I fair welled them at the turn off to Springsure on the way out of the park.

Sand and bull dust just part of the fun on my motorcycle tour of outback Queensland
Typical of the Wilderness Way, steep sandy bluffs and deep sand on the tight corners at the bottom. More than once I felt the front wheel twist and the back wheel slide coming into the corner.
Tight turns are great fun on my motorcycle tour of outback Queensland
Beautiful sand stone escarpments and flowing sand tracks highlight some of the most spectacular vistas in Central Queensland. The road to Salvator Rosa.

“Sorry” Park Closed

After three hours of sand, mud, clay and wet slippery black soil roads, the type of riding tracks that adventure riders say they like but really hope won’t go on forever, I finally arrived at the entrance to the national park. A small sign on the locked gate said it all “Park Closed” “Burning-off Activities in Progress” WTF.

It seems that National Parks are a law unto themselves, there was no indication that they were burning off mentioned on the web site that morning and they, whomever they are, had not bothered to inform the information centre in Tambo or Springsure of their intention. To make it even worse there was no indication of smoke.

Tracks closed are a rarity on my motorcycle tour of outback Queensland

It was now 2.30pm, and time to find a place to camp for the night was running out. My only option was to ride towards Springsure on the bull dusty Dawson Development Road and hope I could find a suitable camp site off the road. I said goodby to my new friends and headed east.

They waited for me at the turnoff back to Tambo and we waved goodby as they went left and I veered off to the right. About an hour later I arrived at the junction between the Dawson Development Road and the Wilderness Way. A number of “three dog cattle trucks” went past, with dust covering the nearby trees.

Packing a bike is sometimes difficult on motorcycle tour of outback Queensland.
The Dawson Development Road is just in front of Emu.

Monument to Major Mitchell

It was 3.30pm when I finally got to the intersection of the Wilderness Way and the Dawson Development road. taking my time to unload Emu, I made a cup of coffee and ate a couple of muesli bars, at the table just back from the edge of the road.

There is a small monument to Major Mitchell’s fourth exploration of this area. Mitchell orginally surveyed this area in 1841 when looking for Burke and Wills.

On his fourth exploration in 1848 he and his team discovered the spring fed creek and named the area Salvator Rosa. Upon following the stream down it eventually joined up with the Barcoo River. This exploration opened up the central west area to the potential for sheep and cattle grazing. It wasn’t long before settlers hungry for land swarmed over the area, claiming large parts of it for themselves.

Major Mitchell Monument on my motorcycle tour of outback Queensland.

Bull dust and corrugations

The Dawson Development Road joins Tambo to Springsure, its cattle country and during trucking season the road gets pretty beaten up. Graders fix the road at then end of the season, which was about now. So I had no idea what the road would be like.

As I had started in the middle of the road I had about one and a half hours until I got to Springsure. The road was generally very good and enabled me to get up to about 90 kilometres per hour in most of the straights. I had started to relax into the flow of the road when all of a sudden, I crested a jump up to reveal about 80 metres of bull dust track.

Before I knew it I was deep in the fine dust that hides deep holes and trenches, my front wheel was trying to climb out of a fairly deep trench. I knew if I let it rise out it was all over as it would throw me off balance and twist the bike. So I stood on my pegs and wrestled it to stay in the grove and keep the line. Coming into this stretch I had my weight on the front of the bike which made the problem worse, added to that and the weight of my tool cases hanging from the engine bars further increasing the problem.

Learning to ride bull dust

Once out of immediate danger I slowed down and took a more considered approach to coming over jump up. I decided that I needed more weight on the back and I needed to drive through the dust and corrugations. As I came upon my next challenge, I braked heavily, engaged the back shock. When I hit the dust I accelerated while riding the back brake until I had a clear line, powering out of the bull dust as I released the back brake.

This happened time after time and alway in the most unexpected places. By the time I reached the tar sealed road some 20 kilometres out of Springsure I was exhausted. There was a turn off that said Minerva National Park. The challenges of a motorcycle tour of outback Queensland is the variety of tracks and roadside stops that you come across, many of which are just not on the tourist map.

As I was intending to camp at Salvator Rosa, I figured it was appropriate to look in this area for a free camp site, hoping to find a piece of flat ground near the amenities, but there were no amenities so I managed to find a camp site near by on the edge of a cliff and camouflaged Emu and myself for the night.

Day Seven motorcycle tour of Outback Queensland
Finding a camp site above Springsure Central Queensland

Stealth Camping

When I’m camping in rest areas or in places I shouldn’t I like to make my camp site as stealthy as possible. I would rather hide than have to explain myself. Today was not exception, I found a number of great places but most were exposed to the roads and tracks.

Eventually, I settled on a small flat clearing right on the edge of a large cliff. I camouflaged Emu and put my tent up, tying it off to the trees. It was a great view and even though it rained all night I was nice and dry with views over Springsure. Tomorrow I head to my parents In-law’s cattle property for a catch up and bit of travel respite.

Stealth Camping not in a national park;) over looking Springsure.

One of the great joys of my motorcycle tour of outback Queensland is finding those quite, out of the way spots to camp and reflect. It was another awesome day:)

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Gary is a travel writer, educator, training specialist and part time adventurer. When not paddling rivers, diving on the Great Barrier Reef or riding down some dusty outback track on his trusted KLR650 "Emu" he likes to explore historical areas and look for the back story.

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