July 17, 2009

The Postie Challenge - Part One

As I put on a load of washing, I smell the dirt, the dust and the campfire smoke. I see the clothes that have stood up to a testing couple of weeks with their rips and tears, marks with oil, fuel, spilt food and drink and I wonder how on earth am I going to clean the bigger jackets. I am reminded of dusty, dirty, windy days spent rattling away inside our four wheel drive. Six and a half thousand kilometres later, with no telephone reception (Nikka barely survived), no television - no Masterchef (I barely survived), no stove and no beautiful running hot water - we made it back home.

I laugh as I recall days spent trying to dodge sandy patches and deep pot holes on the "road" if you can call it that. Days driving trying to avoid sharp, large, loose rocks that claimed many a victim with flat tyres. Days driving blindly into the blearing rising sun trying to see where we were going or indeed if any vehicles were coming. Scary stuff!! Days driving into the hazy, setting sun making it difficult to spot flighty kangaroos or anything for that matter attempting to cross the road. Many a roo carcass lay along the way, crows and mighty eagles not far from the roadkill. Also feral cats, foxes, birds and most distressingly even cattle. There are no fences but there are signs up saying "Cattle ahead". I suspect that huge roadtrains in their neverending endevour to carry their cargo in the fastest possible time are the most likely perpetrators.

When I think of this trip I recall very little "green". It really was an outback adventure with all the colours, smells and sights associated with long-stretched roads and no trees. Not always though. However there was always dust and by the time we got home it was difficult to know whether there was more dust on the inside of the car or the outside. Truly. I laugh as I remember The Borb's hair literally standing on his head stuck together looking and feeling claggy, grainy and filthy. I know. Mine was the same. Creature comforts we take for granted at home like a nice hot shower are soooooo appreciated upon return and if you were to offer me a bucket of pure gold instead of a shower I would most likely turn you down.

I should explain the nature of this trip. A fellow from the Sunshine Coast named Phil, organised this "postie ride", as part of a charity fundraiser. He began these rides four years ago and Hubby went last year on his own and rode the Tasmanian challenge with the postie group. He had heaps of fun and suggested we all come along this year. His workmate and friend "Dee" also came along and did the ride so we were very laden. Our vehicle lugged the trailer with the two postie bikes, all our gear and us. It faithfully got us there and back however our poor old truck is definitely more worse for the trip. Another couple of cracks in the windscreen, knocks and bruises, broken springs, misshapen back door and that is only on the outside. Our trailer was totally hammered, with missing guards by the time we got home and cracks underneath and everywhere making us wonder if indeed we would get home.

There I go digressing again. The fundraiser this year was to support the Royal Flying Doctors and the group raised just over $15,000 so it was a great effort. There were just over 30 bikes on the ride but more riders as sometimes people shared. Hubby and Dee did most of the ride however there was a stint where Mitch and Nikka had turns. More about that later. The ride began at Tibooburra on a Friday morning and officially ended at Lake Eyre the following Tuesday. The riders all had to ride ahead of the support vehicles and there were rules including no one could pass the lead rider, lag behind the sweep rider and there always had to be a "corner post person" to show the people behind places to turn. It was well organised but by the end, I think the rules were slightly ignored at times. We just wanted to "get there"!!

I have heaps of photos so I have decided to make a few posts out of this trip. If you are expecting loads of foodie pics I am afraid I will have to let you down. I didn't cook a thing on this trip. I never do when we camp. It is always the domain of hubby. And when I say cook I am talking, boiling the billy, bread on a stick over the fire to make toast; steak, sausages, eggs, bacon in the pan, cans of spagetti, baked beans and corn. Packet noodles, vegemite, weetbix, dried fruit, nuts, packets of biscuits and my homemade fruit cake. Oh and awful white pasty bread. I couldn't believe they didn't buy some wholegrain. Let's just say that it wasn't really a "foodie adventure" but an adventure of other sorts it most certainly was.

The Postie Ride

For some reason Cameron's Corner is where my picture taking began. There was some confusion between Nikka and I as we both assumed each other had been taking photos and neither of us had. Oh well. Hundreds of kilometres had gone by at this stage and the group had already lost a vehicle after it hit a rock and had to turn back to Tibooburra. Two of the riders also had to pull out of the challenge and they were devastated considering they had driven all the way from Brisbane.

Cameron's corner is the border that connects New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia. This postie ride was for the most part in South Australia.

I couldn't resist taking a photo of these ancient fuel pumps that were still being used. Inside the left pump we discovered a birds nest complete with little eggs. So cute.

A luxurious Aussie barbeque; this was no open fire; it had a lid!

We stopped at interesting sites along the way; this old abandoned bus looked lonely in the harsh Australian outback.

This red road looked smooth enough but was infact deceptively slippery.

We are the corner post vehicle waiting for Phil to come as he lagged behind to help a biker in trouble. We had to wait for the others to catch up before moving ahead.

The drive through the Flinders Rangers was particularly scenic although challenging in areas with incredible gusts of wind raising dust high into the air and sometimes impeding our view of the road.

Lunch stop at Arkaroola and I explore some of the town. This mosaic caught my eye together with some other "olden day" relics.

The riders lined up before they headed off into what turned out to be one of the most challenging routes on the trip. We wouldn't see them until nightfall as half of the vehicle drivers took an easier, faster route to the next town.

We shook, rattled and rocked our way into Blinman on a road so rough I couldn't keep the camera still enough to take a photo out of the car window. And we took the easier route!! God help the bikers.

Blinman was old copper ore town. I found it utterly charming and the greenest place we saw.

Nikka and I took a walk through an old cemetery. Fascinating to read the headstones and the ages of the departed. Some were way too young. Such was the harsh reality of life back then.

This was our most comfortable evening as we had a room for the night and wonderful cooked meals in the hotel. I ordered their famous quandong pie for dessert and thought it tasted rather similar to apple crumble. Delish anyhow. We also washed our dirty hair and had the only "real' shower on our trip. Bliss. The bikers all arrived later that evening; tired, sore, starving and thirsty. The pub made a killing that night. The barman told us the following day they had takings in the vicinity of $6000. I think we supported more than just the Flying Doctors!

We couldn't really gadge the level of damage done to the posties until the following morning. The street was lined up with bikers mending, patching and repairing the bikes for the next leg of the challenge. Unfortunately Hubby had sustained the worst damage out of everyone. He continued to ride with spokes that had loosened. They began to snap and after he had broken about fifteen of them his bike could go no further. Both he and the bike were given a lift back to the pub the night before. His repairs were taking quite a while and the group decided they would push on without him. We of course waited till he could repair them.

We were a very lonely site in the street with all the other riders gone.

The last of the vehicles were heading out behind the postie procession. Without us.

Dee decided to offer his bike to Nikka to have a ride. She wouldn't feel the pressure of having to keep up with the pack so it was a good opportunity for her to have a ride. She accepted.

Of course a practise run was needed.

Hubby decided to give Mitch a turn so that brother and sister could ride together. Off we went hoping that we would make the next destination before before the rest of the group got there. We had 32kms to go to reach Parachina and our fingers were crossed there would be no further incidents.

Unfortunately that was not the case.



  1. Oh my goodness.
    You are an amazing story-teller, mother.
    I already know what happens and yet, I am overwhelmed with a sense of suspense!

    This story, matched with it's corresponding photos, is a treasure to read! Truly! You have a really relatable way of writing. Makes me feel as if I was there myself.

    This has made my day, Mama. Can't wait for the second episode. :)

    Much love,

  2. This looks like so much fun. What an amazing trip you had! Thanks for sharing it; I'm utterly absorbed and can't wait to read Part II...

  3. What an incredible odyssey - and a fantastic charity to support - thanks for sharing it with us. Your wonderful pictures remind me of what a dramatically beautiful country yours is, and how brave some of those people must have been to carve out their lives in the remotest parts of it. Selfishly, I'd like to say I'm very happy you're back, dear!

  4. Can't wait to hear the next section of your story and yes what an amazing country Australia certainly is!!

    off out to Moonie tomorrow (sunday)so will see the dry flat land but not quite as dry and flat I am sure.

    See you next Sunday ........Sara didn't realize and invited your neighbour....oh well what can you do???

    Lovely story thanks

  5. Oh thanks Issy and Chelsea. You both have inspired me to plough on. It's so nice to hear someone is actually appreciating all this. I'm so pleased.

    PS: If there was one thing missing out there Issy, it was you. Thought of you many times my darla!

    Hello my English Rose. It's so nice to hear from you. Yes the pioneers were really something back then. I don't think too many exist these days, so it was really nice for the kids to see how hard life was for people back then. It seriously makes you wonder how they could of survived in some of these places. Check out my next story Debora - I'm sure you will be fascinated.

    Stormy. I was definitely thinking of you two days ago when we travelled on the Moonie Highway and yes we passed signs that said "Tara" and I talked about you. The kids couldn't quite grasp you lived out there. It's a different world. Certainly different to the one you live in now. Enjoy your time out there. I guess you are going to see Marie and co. Have fun and look forward to seeing you next Sunday.

  6. Hi Mariana

    I am just starting to catch up on missed blogs. Had to comment so far.....your photos were fantastic and really painted the final details to the story. Thats all for now...I have to rush on and read part two. :-)

  7. Thanks for catching up Linda. And after part two get ready for another three parts. Hehe.