The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for a newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Riding a motorcycle around Queensland has accumulated 7352 kilometres of adventure touring on my KLR650. In approximately one and a half hours I will turn left, corner hard on a roundabout and drive up a short driveway to my home in Townsville.

It took 26 days to complete, and while I didn’t go to every town in Queensland. I covered a fair amount of ground, from the dusty outback roads to Opalton, to the sandstone cliffs of Carnarvon Gorge. Eventually, I made it to the clear blue azure waters of the Pacific Ocean. Mind you, looking at it on the map it still looks like I have a lot further to go to see it all.

Tour map

Huge land mass

Queensland is immense in size and even though it is just a State of Australia. If you wanted to see all of the state, riding a motorcycle around Queensland is the way to do it but it would have taken about three months. In relation to land mass it can fit both the UK and New Zealand within its borders. It is as varied as any county in the world in terms of culture.

However, what became apparent was a strong dichotomy in the State between two distinct cultures. The delineating line is called the Great Dividing Range. How appropriate.

Queensland’s dichotomy

On one side, strong Australian values of hard work, honesty, integrity and mate-ship, with chicken races and teddy bears. But always a friendly face, welcoming smile and a G’Day Mate “Where you from” curiosity. It’s a place where people acknowledge you with the raising of a finger or a nod of the head.

On the other side, an almost woke culture that is fast paced, frantic, commercialised and individual. A modern world where pursuit of financial independence is a dream and career progression or individual entrepreneurism the pathway to it. Nobody looks up, nobody acknowledges you and there are cars that race past at excruciating speeds burning more fossil fuel in one day than the average farmer in a week. 

A new religion “Environmental Liberalism”

I couldn’t help make some observations about our society as I rode through countless small towns and down the arterial roads that are the life blood of this state. The dichotomy as mentioned seems like a silent religious war.

It looks like there’s a new religion in town, “Environmental Liberalism” with it’s wrathful god “Climate Change”. This new religion has replaced the traditional Christian faith of the past 2000 years. It’s interesting that there is this great green movement is in our cities. But having just travelled through the Outback, I can’t help feeling there’s no place less green that the cities.

Best beach project

I wrote a blog post some years ago and said I believed Bowen in North Queensland had the best beaches. After publishing it, I thought “How do I really know?” So I decided to stop at as many beaches as I could from Coolangatta to Cooktown and identify the “Best Beach”. Check out my Bowen story at the following link: https://digitalswaggie.com.au/?p=140

As I was riding a motorcycle around Queensland, I tried to stop at almost every beach, to find the “Best” one. An illusive dream. They are all great, mind you some are greater than others. There is still work to do on that project and I have to go back to Sarina and then up to Cooktown in order to finish the work. Planning has already started.

What have I learnt?

In my short tour of Queensland I have learnt not to worry about the small things, as Mark Manson states in his book “The subtle art of not giving a f&ck” looking for only positive experiences is in itself a negative experience and paradoxically the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience”

What does this have to do with motorcycle touring. It’s simply this, when you ride a motorcycle shit happens, it rains, you get a flat tyre, some idiot almost kills you, your chain breaks and Kangaroos have no commonsense (this is not a thing, just an observation). You don’t need to worry about those things, you will deal with them and they will make you more positive in the long run. Phrases like “Shit Happens” “If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger” are all coined to help you not give a f$ck.

Thousands of negative experiences

I could go on with thousands more negative experiences and problems you might encounter when riding an adventure bike. What becomes completely obvious is that to get to your destination you have to fix the immediate problem and move on, it’s pure self reliance. When you get where you’re going and providing you’re not in a comma in some hospital, your experiences are overwhelmingly positive. You made it.

Put it into perspective

Some people might say “so what?” “you rode a motorcycle around Queensland for 26 days”. It’s not the “Long way round, it’s not the Ted Simon’s four year adventure around the world or Chris Donaldson’s tour through of war torn Africa. And they would be right, my small journey does not compare to the epic trips those guys made and the experiences they encountered. But that is not the point of my journey.

The Journey Home
This is Emu and I now as I write this blog. I have been riding a motorcycle around Queensland for the past two years. We have been so far together and and have so far to go. In my next post I will discuss what I have done to prepare for our next adventure.

City Slickers – What did Curley mean?

I now know what Curley meant when he held up his finger in that immortal gesture to Billy Crystal in the movie “City Slickers” See my first blog in this series for context to this statement: Curley’s Secret of Life . And I think that one thing is different for everyone, for me it represents freedom.

Not in the way of being completely unshackled and living a stress free hippy life. But freedom of the mind and knowing that if I can ride a motorcycle around Queensland, I can ride it anywhere. It is freedom to move beyond my current mind set to explore new possibilities.

Take this into your everyday life and you suddenly realise the only person you need to be happy, is yourself. And what better way of doing it than by riding a motorcycle around Queensland.

Even if you have a shitty day, if you tackle your problems and move on. You will have a positive day by the end of it. Once you get this concept, everything else changes.

Waking on the final day

This morning when I awoke I was in an overwhelmingly positive mood, I was almost at the end of my first major motorcycle adventure. I should have been sad, but I wasn’t because I had achieved three bucket list items. These included finding an opal at Opalton,  writing a story about the poor old swaggie that got murdered at the Combo Waterhole and I had ridden a motorcycle around Queensland.

My tour included camping in “out of the way places”, marvelling at the shear beauty of nature and meeting interesting people. Just like a modern day swaggie.

This older guy walked up to me as I sat waiting for my billy to boil next to my tent. “Giday Mate, where are you from” he said. I smiled, I was back on the right side of the line.

Ravenswood

Ravenswood is a remarkable place, it is literally living history. But even though I am here camping, it’s not my intention to talk about it in this blog. It’s only an hour and a half from Townsville and I have previously written a blog about the place. If you want to know more about this interesting area and its current gold rush you can read it at the following link:The story of gold and Ravenswood

In my mind, riding a motorcycle around Queensland is a large undertaking, each day is an epic adventure. I have included a link to each day below. If you haven’t read it please start at day one, I’m sure you will get a laugh out of some of my thoughts at the time. Click on the button under the photo to view that day’s post.

26 days of stories on the road

Packing up for the last time on this journey

This may seem strange but one of the most satisfying things I did when riding a motorcycle around Queensland is pack my bike. At the end of the packing process I was ready to roll onto the next adventure.

This is the last time I pack up my kit on this adventure, it’s the same routine I have done almost 20 times in the past month. There are some changes to my kit that I want to make, to make my sleeping arrangements more comfortable and mobile.

I’m even considering a small bike swag when I know I will be stealth camping to reduce my profile. The journey home will be straight down the highway, but it doesn’t mean I can be slack with my packing.

My adventure

1 – Motorcycle tour of outback Queensland

This is the first day of my motorcycle tour of Queensland. It’s been a long time on the bucket list and today is day one.

Day One camping at the Pentland River Rest Area.
Pentland River Rest Area.

2 – Motorcycle tour of Western Queensland, Dangerous ducks and dead golfers

Once I get to Hughenden, it gets drier and the vegetation becomes sparse. I’m now moving into Outback Queensland and the dinosaur trail.

Koronasaurus Corner,
A big underwater predator is the mascot for Richmond

3 – Hunting down the ghost

Riding in the Queensland Outback on a 30 day tour is an amazing experience. This is day three of a months traveling and I’m visiting the Combo Waterhole, he song Waltzing Matilda was conceived.

Combo Waterhole, site of the murder of an innocent swaggie,
The waterhole made famous by the killing of a swaggie

4- Winton home of Waltzing Matilda

Winton is a unique place in the Queensland Outback. It is so far from anywhere you have to make a journey specifically in order to get there.

Winton home of Waltzing Matilda.
Combo waterhole display in the centre of Winton

5- Opalton a frontier town like no other: Mad miners, guns and opals

Opalton has an undeserved reputation as a gun slinging frontier town of tough miners. Where claim jumping often ends in gun play.

Emu at Opalton,
Arrive at Opalton approximately 120 kilometres South West of Winton

6- Revolution and civil unrest; in the foot steps of swaggies and shearers

History is often made by those pushed beyond reason. This is no different to the events that led to the formation of the Labor Party. Barcaldine is the home of the swaggie legend.

Barcaldine monument to the Labor Party,
The monument erected at significant cost after the death of the tree of knowledge in Barcaldine

7- Chicken races, teddy bears and a dirt track motorcycle tour

Riding from Longreach in Central West Queensland to Springsure in Central Queensland is a journey through history. Some of the great events that formed this nation played out in this area.

Stealth camping on tour.
Finding a camp site above Springsure Central Queensland

8 – Carnarvon Gorge and Cattle Grazing

The Carnarvon Gorge is promoted as the roof top of Queensland. It is a spectacular place and well worth a visit.

Motorcycle journey of Queensland. Mount Carnarvon facing west to Carnarvon Gorge and Cattle Grazing, Riding a motorcycle around Queensland
Mount Carnarvon. It looks west to Carnarvon Gorge.

9- The best country scenery in Queensland

Riding up a small property track towards the Black Alley Peak.

Country Scenery on the track to Black Alley Peak, Riding a motorcycle around Queensland
One of the small access roads leading up to the Black Alley Peak. On the other side of the peak is the Carnarvon Gorge National Park

10 – The Murray Darling River and Surat

This is day 10 of my motorcycle tour of Outback Queensland. Each day presents more facts and more history. Making the outback of Queensland an interesting place to visit.

Murray Darling where it all begins, Riding a motorcycle around Queensland
Surat Bridge over the Balonne River.

11- Camping on the Balonne River

The weir on the Balonne River. This provides deep holes that help the river stay stocked with sports fish.

Camping on the Balonne River, Riding a motorcycle around Queensland
The weir at Surat provides a long deep hole where they stock fish for their annual fishing competition.

12 – Toowoomba to the Gold Coast

The journey from Toowoomba to the Gold Coast was like riding from the past to the future, a chaotic fast paced one.

Toowoomba to Gold Coast, Riding a motorcycle around Queensland
The Carnival of Flowers in Toowoomba

13 – History of the Gold Coast

The history of the Gold Coast is sometimes forgotten in the glitz and glamour of its international tourism reputation.

Best beaches Burleigh Heads Pavilion,Riding a motorcycle around Queensland
The Burleigh Heads Pavilion is situated right on the beach at Burleigh Heads

14- Emu tries Cafe Racing for a day

This cafe sits at the top of mount glorious and is the ideal cafe racing destination.

Cafe Racing Cafe, Riding a motorcycle around Queensland
This cafe sits right on the top of Mount Glorious. It is the ultimate cafe for cafe racing

15- Best Beach Project, Colundra to the Maroochydore River

The Sunshine Coast has alway been considered the poorer cousin to the Gold Coast. But over the years it has come of age. The beaches here are varied and spectacular.

Best Beaches Project. Riding a motorcycle around Queensland
The view from the camp site at Cotton Tree on the Marcoochydore River

16 – Noosa River Adventure

The Noosa River is a beach side playground with cafes’ fashion and stunning beaches. The river is much more interesting and I ride a long it and into the Cooloola Recreational Reserve to Harry’s Hut.

Early Morning Reflections Riding a motorcycle around Queensland
Looking up the Upper Noosa Morning and catching the early morning reflections

17 – Rainbow Serpent

The aboriginal people believe that the Rainbow Serpent died here and that the coloured sands are all that is left of him. Rainbow Bay to Inskip Point.

Rainbow serpent, Riding a motorcycle around Queensland
You are not allowed past this point with a vehicle. It is the Rainbow beach vehicle access and exit ramp.

18 – Great Sandy Straits and azure seas

The road from Tin Can Bay to Maryborough is an unremarkable road. You ride through pine plantations and the occasional opportunity to leave the road and visit a beach side community.

Great Sandy Straits Tin Can Bay, Riding a motorcycle around Queensland
The beginning of the Great Sandy Straits at Tin Can Bay

19-The life of an adventurer

The home of Bundaberg Run, Bert Hinkler and the famous Mon Repo. A great place to visit especially when you have friends there.

Life of an adventurer in Bundaberg, Riding a motorcycle around Queensland
The Bundaberg Rum distillery

20- Captain James Cook only his second day in Australia

Palm lined shores adorn the area where in 1770 Captain James Cook would have landed for the second time in what was to become Australia.

Captain James Cook on the journey home, Riding a motorcycle around Queensland
Palm Trees line the shore at the township of 1770.

21 – Unexpected drama, Emu passed away

Emu passed away in his sleep. It was and unexpected delay to a big day of riding

Emu on the journey home, Riding a motorcycle around Queensland
Emu found a fellow mascot at Emu Park in Central Queensland

22- Hugh tidal flow

The town of St Lawrence in Central Queensland has the highest tidal flow in Queensland. It has a fascinating history.

Rail Bridge over hugh tidal flow, Riding a motorcycle around Queensland
This rail bridge spans the St Lawrence Creek Estuary which has the largest tidal flow in Queensland.

23 – Back on the dirt

My journey home sees Emu and I climbing up Clarkes Ranges with the spectacular Pioneer Valley below. We’re heading back to the outback and the dirt roads.

back on dirt, Riding a motorcycle around Queensland
Pioneer Valley from the top of Clarkes Range.

24 – Bowen River Hotel

The Bowen River Hotel is situated along a rural dirt track approximately 20 kilometres from Collinsville. In this journey I ride from Eungella Dam to the famous Bowen River Hotel.

Bowen River Hotel Riding a motorcycle around Queensland
Classic picture of the Bowen River Hotel. Still a favourite destination for adventure riders

25- Burdekin Dam and Ravenswood

I’m riding to Ravenswood an historical gold mining town in North Queensland. Along the way I will pass under the spillway of the Burdekin Dam.

Burdekin Dam to Ravenswood Riding a motorcycle around Queensland
Burdekin Dam full with the access road at the bottom of the spillway

Riding Home

I pack up slowly, making sure that everything is where it should be and then I go through the regular bike checks. Oil levels are right, chain is clean and lubricated, panniers and packs are firmly stowed. Then the final check. Jacket, helmet, keys in ignition, glasses and gloves. A part from a fuel stop about half way home this is the last time on this trip I will go through that procedure.

Pushing the starter, Emu comes to life. The quiet “pop, pop, pop” of the big 650 single engine is like the purring of a family cat. I let him rev under choke for a few minutes, then I lift my leg up and hop sideways over the seat. It’s a reassuring feeling perched between my back pack and my tank bag.

The dirt rider in all of us

I look up at the horse shoe dirt road that feeds campers and caravans into this park, there are little dogs being taken for a walk and a couple of small kids. As I ride out I can’t help myself, I stand on the pegs and turn the throttle sharply. The engine revs as I lean slightly to the right, the back wheel slides out as I keep the revs up I lean to the centre and turn the front wheel in the direction I want to travel.

A perfect power slide, I sit down and straighten up to allow Emu to pull out of the slide and rocket forward. I’m cruising through Ravenswood and out to Mingela and then the highway east to Townsville. After getting petrol half way down the range, it’s not long before the outer areas of Townsville come into view. I go past the Army base before I get to the turn off. Before long I will turn left, corner hard on a roundabout and drive up a short driveway to my home.

If you have liked my stories of riding a motorcycle around Queensland and you would like to read more in the coming months. Please consider subscribing to my NEWS Letter. Safe Travels…………Digital Swaggie:)

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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.

4 comments

  1. That was great reading Gary,
    Well it looks like you need to do the top of QLD now,
    Well done on the Blog.
    Cheers Q

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