Bhutan and Australia 2022

This trip is about to begin..

Bhutan and Australia Nov 2022
Nov 5th Sat
The start of my journey to Bhutan via India….flying from Heathrow…There was a train strike due today so about 10 days ago I booked a ticket to get to Heathrow by coach. The train strike included the underground so this seemed the only way to get to Heathrow barring a very expensive taxi ride or asking a friend which did seem a big ask.
In the event the train strike was called off late on the 4th but there was to be transport disruption so stuck to my plan. Daughter Gina took me to Kings Lynn at 9.45am to catch the first of 3 coaches. Its a dull looking overcast day with a hint of rain. We reach Norwich 20 mins late but in time to make my connection to the next National Express coach. Off we go to Victoria coach station in London. Bad traffic in London meant we were 30 mins late giving me 3 mins to find the next coach. Bus driver great and hauls my bag out of the hold from the back and off I run. Right direction but which bus stop…its 16 ! I run, find it, but access doors from building to buses shut. Coach is still there. I rattle the door and am noticed and they let me through to join the queue to get on the coach. Very luckily it’s late too!
That coach got to Heathrow an hour late due to roadworks on the M4. It did not matter to me now, as flying tomorrow and only need to get to hotel today. Get to terminal but now need to head back out to hotel. Think I now deserve a taxi to go 1.5 miles. Look up an Uber….price seems to be about £26. You are joking!!! So search around for the right local bus…another short ride and I am there, at my hotel. It has taken 9 hrs to do 140 miles….by coach from Norfolk. Hope trains are running when I am back. Its only going to take 10 hrs flying time to get to Delhi.

Nov 6th Sun
Relaxed morning only needing to get to airport by lunch time. All goes smoothly and catch flight to Delhi via Dubai. The change of flight after 7 hrs in Dubai goes smoothly albeit between 2am and 4am. Dubai to Delhi was about 3hrs. Sleep was not possible really. On first flight it was made impossible by screaming child nearby and second flight was too short what with being disturbed by a meal.
Nov 7th Mon
So with about 1 hrs sleep I arrive in Delhi about 9am local time. We are met by a driver for the motorcycle tour company. I am now one of 3. Myself, Terry and Larry. Off to Metropolitan hotel. 1 hr sleep and then off with a driver to see a bit of Delhi. Right the driver and I visit a Sikh temple.

I had to wear the yellow headscarf .

It is about to be a Sikh festival. I learn about how the Sikh’s are great givers and takers and even visit the kitchen of this big complex where they feed about 25000 people a day for free….all done by volunteers. You may have a free meal one day and then help the next.

Saucepan full of Dhal.!

Waiting for their food.

All eat everything with their fingers.

Then Rishi and I search for some gaiters for my Bajaj tuktuk . I am in India, the home of Bajaj, no time to waste getting spare parts that I cannot buy in England. We vaguely succeed…at least the driver knows where to get them when the place is open. Shut to day as it is now Monday.
In the evening we meet our guide, Alam. Now this is funny…I had noticed that the guide’s name is Hussain Alam. I previously went on a trip 10 years ago with a guide called Alam Shar. They are one and the same person! So it was a nice surprise to greet him. All the more so as I had messaged Alam to see if he could help with Tuktuk parts as I do need new clutch plates. He had never replied. But now as he says hello tonight he tells me he has got them!! Rishi and I had only been looking for gaiters which we need plenty of anyway.
We go out to eat and finally I get to bed for a good sleep…
Nov 8th Tues
I nearly over sleep the 7am breakfast. During the night I had woken to the sounds of shooting and a large explosion sound followed by what sounded like firecrackers . It would appear this was the beginning of the Sikh festival at 1am. Breakfast done it was off to the airport to catch an internal flight to Bagdogra where we get to see our motorbikes. Security was endless, queuing for tickets too. Security found my lovely little French penknife which I had completely forgotten about languishing in the bottom of a bag. Lost! It will have to be replaced. So sad…it had travelled happily through Heathrow and Dubai.

Plane late but no matter. Very busy as this is Sikh holiday time.. Short flight passes well and we take a taxi to the Cinderella hotel in Siliguri. We get acquainted with our bikes and learn more from Alam about Bhutan. There have been lots of last minute changes to our trip. Bhutan has only opened one border crossing. This means our route within will be changed. Also they suddenly announced that no Indian bikes unless you pay a fortune. Then the plan was to bring Bhutanese registered bikes to here but that is not allowed. So now we will ride Indian bikes to the border and then swap for Bhutanese at the border. All bikes are Royal Enfields. Himalyan for tomorrow.!!

Nov 9th Wed
We are off on the bikes. Weather is really quite hot. We are only at 100 metres above sea level for now, for today. On to the Indian roads. Not a great deal changes; cows, dogs, filthy buses and drivers, and aggressive cars. Horn honking if you are overtaking and everything else. There are less cycles and more scootors….many carrying huge loads. Little tiny tuktuk like electric 3 wheelers that go pretty slowly and the wonderful overtaking/get out of the way I am coming!!!
The other two are as experienced as me so we get along the road very well. Alam is pushing it to the border as we do not know how long it will take To get across. A quick stop for chai and on we go. The farming here is tea bushes and pineapples. Had no idea tea could grow this low down. In the forest there are troupes of Macaque monkeys.

Larry had a momentary lapse of concentration when we were going through some pay station for a road. Bikes could go to the side for free . Larry did not realise that there was a last barrier there for cars and managed to clip its end and the barrier flipped upwards. Larry did not fall off. We think the barrier had been damaged before and was pretty weak. We all carried on and no one stopped Larry !!
We get to the border about 1pm.

Waiting to go to Indian exit office.

Mancarrying load old fashioned way.

We have a fixer. First out of India stamp in one dirty building, then back on bikes, under an archway and suddenly all is peace and calm. We all walk off with our several fixers. Alam seems to know some of them. He has been here plenty of times but not since before covid …so about 3/4 years ago.The Bhutanese men are dressed rather like tibetans; socks to the knees, skirt and matching tunic top or tartan type skirt. Many seem to wear a badge with a picture of the king pinned to their tops.
We sit and wait while things are done for us.

Picture of Bhutanese King and his family on the wall at the border. They are all proud of their king.

Tv on the wall is showing the Bhutanese parliament in action. Seems very calm and measured! Bhutan another half an hour ahead of India. When things are done it is smiles all round and its back, on the bikes to the nearby hotel where our Bhutanese bikes are waiting. The Indian bikes will go back to India in a van. It has obviously taken much organising. But we are here. Our visa is stamped for the exact time we are here. At the hotel we are greeted with chai , biscuits and some crispy ball things to eat. We have crossed the border at Phuentsholing (Bhutan)/Jaigaon (India ).
During supper Alam lets us know that the border guards will not let in the van to Bhutan to pick up our Indian bikes. They are going to have to take each one to the border and push it over!!!

Nov 10th Thurs
Off we go on our Bhutanese Royal Enfield himalayan motorcycles in this new country. Immediately up into the mountains. Not much traffic, just belching lorries,buses and taxis. Very few private cars. Road a bit potholed and Macaque monkeys standing by. Quite soon there is some kind of control post.

Control post with lady police. Citizen in traditional long skirt.

We have to wait for our team in the back up van. They have all the documents. They are two Bhutanese men, one dressed traditionally, and our Indian mechanic. They are all friendly and helpful and happy to tell us all about Bhutan. At around 27 degrees of latitude it is just outside of the tropics. It has a population of nearly 800,000. It is just a little smaller than Switzerland which has a population of 8.6 million. So very few people! Many are walking around in their traditional clothing. It can be any colour except white or red/orange. The latter is reserved for monks. Its main religion is Buddhist.

The road climbs and climbs with bend after bend. But it is good and the weather pretty warm until we finally reach 2000m when it cools somewhat. Pretty houses, more monkeys and on we go , up and down and bends !! We travel to Paro today…about 150kms. We stop and take photos of a monastery called Tachog Lhakhang which was built by a man who “invented” chain bridges in the 16th/17th century. We admire the one crossing the river near this monastery. Then it was to our hotel in Paro. Very traditional and attractive buildings.
We eat in the hotel as we mostly have done. It is pretty cheap but we have a food inclusive deal and only pay for drinks.

Very old chain bridge in the foreground.

Terry and Larry.

Nov 11th Fri
We are off to walk up to the Tiger’s nest monastery.

Van in car park. The Tiger’s nest monastery circled.

The monastery.

It might take 3.5 to 4 hours. We know the monastery is at 3000m on a pinnacle of rock. We drive to a carpark and set off. I am a bit apprehensive about my bad knee…all that uphill..and down. Walking at height soon had all of us huffing and puffing. Alam comes, as does the Indian mechanic and the Bhutan guide who is called Belden and is very kind and nice. He walks in his traditional skirt and tunic. The solid path soon becomes a load of earth steps. Its steep and never-ending. We all have to stop for breath. Eventually reach a cafe which seems on the same level as our goal but in between is much up and then down many stone steps and then up many stone steps.

Red line where it went down and up steps.

We get there, knackered all ready. We admire all things Buddhist and the view!! Then it was back.

Saw this bird on our way down…Yellow beaked long tailed magpie.

I felt lightheaded and was so out of breath. Larry and Terry were doing slightly better. The steps down and then the up again almost did for me. I needed some food or something! Belden was great hanging back with me as I rested and climbed, rested and climbed. Finally it was all down hill to the cafe where we got some tea and biscuits. My knee did better than I thought it would. I did go easy on it.
6.5 miles the round trip.
2500m to 3000m approx.
Read all about it on Wikipedia.
Lunch in town, then back to the hotel to get on the bikes and make a simple and short ride to the capital….Thimphu. Paro, where we had lunch had some lovely old buildings. They are very ornate with lovely carvings etc in what we all would say was tibetan style. All much cleaner and organised than India, its neighbour. The road traffic is much less and generally calmer than India too.

Nov 12th Sat
Today its Thimpu to Khuruthang . Damchen resort hotel. First we do a bit of Thimpu sightseeing. This capital city has only 100,000 inhabitants. It lies along a valley, all strung out. We visit a stupa, Buddhist kind of temple…


Stupa or Chorten.

Ladies cleaning out candle holders.

Then it was off up the hill above town to a giant Buddha. Huge, enormous and ostentatious. Its all gold colour, covered in gold coloured tiles. There has been some kind of gathering here. Hundreds of volunteers tidying up in their orange overalls. Balden the guide waxes lyrical about all the symbolism of the buddist paintings etc.

It was enormous and modern..2006 I think.
Its Coldish. I have most warm clothes on. Thimpu is at 2300m and we are going over a pass of 3000m. The tarmac road is pretty good, little traffic and bend after bend. Wonderful motorcycling. We reach the top of the pass and admire and then have lunch.

At top of pass..a whole load of mini stupas.

Sadly weather swirls and the view of the himalayas can’t be seen. Down we go, bend after bend again until we reach 1250m. It does become warm!! We have gone back down to tropical vegetation ! Stop and look at a market. The fruit includes Persimmons, tree tomatoes, guavas, pears, apples, oranges and more.
Once arrived we quite quickly head off to a fortified monastery called Punakha Dzong.


It was built in 1660 or so. It is where the king gets crowned. This place used to be the capital. I acquaint it with Windsor castle. Huge buildings within walls, part monastery part administration. Very impressive.

Balden dressed in a white shawl ready to take us into the Dzong.
It rains while we eat In the evening !!
Nov 13th Sun
We seem to be departing from our schedule but no matter. We are doing a long day..200kms. We begin by following a river down a beautiful valley. Then it is up .We do 2 passes of 3400m high today. It is cold but not as bad as you might suspect. Near on tropical rain forest gives way to temperate rain forest.


These are honey combs hanging high up on a Dzong. We also saw honey combs in the mountains hanging from rocks. And swarming bees..

It all seems so odd in the northern hemisphere and in the high mountains. Bhutan comes across as like Switzerland but its climate is so different. The weather today is pretty cloudy but when the sun shines it feels lovely and hot. This is the beauty of being close to the tropics…27 degrees north. Bhutan is blessed with being able to grow tropical fruit in its valleys as well as good northern vegetables and crops like wheat and maize, and rice.


There were many roaming dogs.

Top of a pass , always with flags.

Rice terraces.

Harvesting the rice is all done by hand, loading the rice still on the straw by hand onto carts back to the farmhouse to be whinnowed. Note heap of rice.

The rice was a bit of a surprise . They were busy harvesting it.. all by hand. Cut the crop and then bring home to whinnow. I think all of us had seen rice growing in the southern hemisphere which is green if you travel at this time of the spring time as opposed to autumn here.We have been drinking Bhutan wine but suspect it is only blended and bottled in Bhutan from Indian grapes.
The road is full of bends. We do not go fast at all. Traffic is minimal today and really our worst danger comes from cows. Physically wandering around and then leaving cow pats and pee all over the road. Slipping on a fresh cow pat would not be fun! Then in places there are donkeys and ponies. Dogs are the next main danger. They are everywhere, wandering Bhutan and whilst
seemingly friendly , belong to no-one. They are a problem. Buddist do not kill any animal so not sure how they keep dog numbers in check. They have culled them in the past our guide says.
All signs on shops are in English. Large English lettering and then smaller in Bhutanese. English is the second language. That is a kinship with India.
We go past the 2nd largest Dzong in the afternoon. All the Dzongs were built in the 1600′ s….one in each of twenty districts. One more lesser pass on a smaller road and we are at our hotel in Jakar. It is in the Bumthang valley.


Who can spot the monkey?

Dzong buildings


The cheeky monkey.

Nov 14th Mon
There has been change of plan as we cannot leave Bhutan by its Eastern end it ; not open for now. So after seeing the town of Jakar..interesting butcher selling fish beside the meat…and lots of little shops in wooden premises, we get some money at last and then head back the way we came.


Yak sausages.



Yak cheese haging on strings. Very chewy!

Up and over the little pass and one of the big ones till we reach Trongsa. It was not a long ride. We are then, tomorrow heading south from Trongsa on a different route.
So with time today we go round the Dzong at Trongsa. Second largest and different to the other we saw in style. It had been the administrative place for 2 Kings. Still an administrative spot. Not quite so perfect with monks ‘falling out’ of various buildings. Back up the hill to our hotel. Nice weather day today with a cool wind but really nice in the sun.


Nov 15th Tues

Its a beautiful morning as we leave our hotel at 8am. At 2100m its quite cold, about 8c but we are heading down and not going quickly. The views are stunning, we are high and the mountains are steep sided. Nevertheless odd houses are clinging to the hillside and the occasional village. Terraces of rice where possible, one farmstead with the family taking break from whinnowing the rice. Poinsettia bushes line the road like Rhododendrons in Scotland.Pale pink autumn cherry blossom; large Datura shrubs with huge white flowers ; butterflies and birds.Alam spots some Gee’s golden langurs


Gees golden langur.

Pale pink autumn cherry blossom; large Datura shrubs with huge white flowers ; butterflies and birds.Alam spots some Gee’s golden langur. They are on the endangered list. …not much time to take the photo before they head away.
The road is a secondary one and is not that wide in parts. The surface could be broken but it all makes for fun motorcycling when you take the bends into account !! We push on, tea stop, lunch stop and onwards. It gets dark at 4.45pm. We do 190kms , more ups and downs , and get to the hotel in time. We are now at 250m above sea level and it is nice and warm. ! Gelephu.

Nov 16th Wed
Setting off at 8am as we have a long day..250kms on a very bendy road. We can do it! Its lovely at 18c..warm and sunny. But up and up we go. Still not too bad till the end of the day when we climb the final pass and then it is cold… Thimphu is at 2300m and the pass was about 3100m. We had gone along the border to start with and then headed back up north. This valley followed a river on which they were building dams. The rumours are that they have diverted the river into the mountain and have stores of water there to pump up and down to make hydro electric power. Again great motorbiking but not a cultural day..
Back to the same hotel in Thimphu but we go out to eat . The hotel has a remarkably cold foyer, and a very uncosy bar and an equally dull restaurant. My bedroom is not too bad re warmth!! Thimphu is at 2300m.
Nov 17th Thurs
Our last full day of motorbiking here in Bhutan. We head south, going up and down until finally it is all down , down to the plain and the border at Phuentsholing. We see quite a few gangs of volunteers cleaning out the roadside ditch/drain. Cleaning it from rubbish and also rock falls and greenery. I guess so they are ready for heavy monsoon rain. We saw many ladies at work doing this rather futilely with small brushes and hand tools; some with their babies and one pair with cat watching them. The serious gangs are all dressed in orange overalls. The volunteers respond to a countrywide app that appeals for help in certain areas. This was begun about 4 years ago…a very social thing to do.
The mountains are amazing , being so forested so they do not look like the Alps for instance . The trees are many and diverse. One strange thing is the Bhutan Cyprus tree. It is absolutely not like the European Cyprus…!


Bhutanese Cyprus tree.

I tried a little shopping this morning in Thimphu when we had an hour to spare before leaving,and tonight in Phuentsholing. Masses of little shops selling pretty awful rather tatty stuff. Terry found some stickers depicting the Bhutan flag which was about the best thing to buy.


The Bhutanese flag has this dragon on it. Dragon is an important symbol for them.

Bhutanese bamboo scaffolding.
Nov 18th Fri
And so its goodbye to Bhutan. We did like its orderliness. The traffic was mostly light and well behaved. The wandering cows walked slowly and positively. The dogs did much night time barking but did a lot of sleeping during the day. The people were friendly and pretty often spoke good English. It came across as a country run along on social lines but in a gentle way…everyone cooperating with each other.

Here we all are..Larry, Dorji, Terry, Balden, Nina , Alam and Raul.

Border formalities were a bit tedious but our Bhutanese guides kept helping until we were through. We then said our goodbyes off we went on our Indian bikes. Now a bit of a story here…last night Alam said we would not get bikes for this day and would be travelling by car. We all made a fuss..this was NOT the plan. So it seems they got 4 boys to ride 4 bikes from Siliguri to the border. How the boys got back we do not know…yet. So glad we made a fuss as it is just so much more interesting on a bike. We had 2 entertaining spots to work our way through that would have been horrid in a car. One was a railway crossing with its gate down . Huge queue which we over take and get to the crossing where you have cars in the overtaking lane on both sides of the crossing. Bikes in the middle. Gates open and chaos but we bikes wriggle and toot our way through. One bike goes over on the other side leading to more temporary chaos. Leaving that behind we get to a forested area where they are laying new tar. All the machines  are heading towards us . No lane closures, no work lights we just have to get into the other lane against the traffic . Not easy as there is a lip to get up on with trucks heading towards you. Larry nearly gets his foot rollered and there was great danger of getting tar on your foot too.. luckily there are quite a few bikes so we work together to forge a route against the traffic on their side whilst work machines just keep on coming towards us in our lane. Again how cars or trucks pushed their way through I do not know..too busy looking forward and not in the mirrors! Then total jam in Siliguri so we take to undertaking in the dust at the side of the road till we reach our hotel. About 150kms.

Tea picking.

Nov 19th Sat
Off to Bagdogra to get internal flight to Delhi. The reverse of our coming. Nightmare. First queue to get into building. Second queue having hold luggage scanned. They did not like the batteries in my motorcycle gloves. Had to unpack bag to get gloves out. Then okay. Repack bag. Third queue to check in the bag. Lengthy…Fourth queue security. They suddenly do not like my bag of plugs for mobile etc. Nor bumbag contents. All has to be tipped out even though these same things have been through all security systems till now. Fifth queue to get on plane…
We arrive after a short flight. I immediately go off to get Tuktuk gaiters with Rishi the driver. I think we succeed. He wants silly money for taking me. I end up saying £15 is it..I win. Get back and I go straight out for a walk round. End up by being talked into buying a Kashmiri carpet. I am pleased and hope did not pay too much. Being DHL’d to Gina back home. After that I walk some more with many more indians trying to help, make me buy things. Even cross the road!! Get fed up..
In the evening we all go out to Pina? Bukara restaurant near the Connaught place. We have a good meal for the last time together and are joined by Alam’s friends from Nepal with more spare parts for Tuktuk…clutch plates and gaiters. Total cost £12. So cheap.
Nov 20th Sun
Up early to catch flight to Singapore…now on way to Emma in Australia. Usual queues but not as bad as Bagdogra. Flight one hour earlier than expected. Lucky to have enough time for the queueing in the airport. Singapore Airlines flight. Arrived in Singapore where I had a huge .ong wait. Luckily got into conversation with a Brazilian lady who was coming on the same flight. We whiled away the time slowly until 11.35pm. Off o another 5 hour flight to Perth.
Nov 21st Mon
Dear Emma had got up at 3.30am to dri e to Perth to meet my flight. I had slept about 1 hour so was very sleep deprived. Emma chatted away while I tried hard not to fall asleep. Arriving in Dunsbourgh we both had nap! Today a day for adjusting to a different life style. !

Nov 22nd to 23rd Tues-Wed
Have been put to work! Several tasks waiting for me! Preparing the veg plot we have now done. Helping collect from school and generally slotting into the family life style. Getting to know the habits of the family Sphinx cat. She cannot go outside for fear of being attacked/lost, or getting sunburnt. It seems to have tender feet. It can rush all over the house and likes the top of the fridge as a view point but can get stuck if it gets on to a child’s top bunk. Doesn’t Iike to jump down.

Its pleasant to hot weather. I have been reacquainted with my bike and getting ready for next trip. Hardly seen a kangaroo but heard/seen a few birds.!

Young Otto and my Honda 250.

Nov 24th -27th Thurs/Sun
So , I have been settling in to family life. 3 children and their various schools and hobbies. This morning we have been to Nippers on the beach at Yallingup. Teams of children all being organised into different races of an obstacle nature.

Zac, is on the right in a purple hat!

Zack took part, Finn had had a sleep over and was not there and Otto played. Zack, highly competitive aged 10, gave of his all and collected two 2nds, a 3rd and a 4th from the 4 competions. Very good!
Finn played basketball on Friday night…his team won. I, in the meantime tackled the little Yamaha 50cc with the help of Otto. We got the head off and discovered it’s not piston or rings that have a problem. Its crank or drive shaft. With the aid of a pdf workshop manual I possibly could continue..after I get back from my trip up north. Bit more gardening was done. Weather pleasant but did have rain, heavy, one early morning. Some Christmas presents bought, and plans made.
I leave at midday to ride to Perth to spend a night with my fellow parent in law…Trudy. Honda 250 and I head north in pleasant weather at about 80/90 kms on a pretty empty dual carriageway. Have to make luggage adjustments! Got two rucksacks, one on seat, one on my back. No good , and after managing to buy some more bungee straps at a service station get both strapped on the back. Much better. Map on phone but have to stop to view. Nevertheless it works . Have nice evening with Trudy and her friend Pete. We watch world football matches from Quatar…its all going on !!!
Nov 28th Mon
I set off at about 8.15am. Had to cover 280 miles which is quite a lot even on a faster bike. I do not really want to go faster than 50..60 mph. Poor bike will be revved up too much for too long especially if it gets hot. Max speed limit is 110 kmh ie 70 mph anyway. Australians are law abiding drivers on the whole. Speeding fines are high.


That white is a sand dune marching  inland.
The weather is fine. I have t shirt, cotton polo neck and m/cycle jacket on. Probably 18c as I leave. Road has curves, forests, hills and straights so nice and varied. Lots of signs about kangaroos, emus and others but I see none. Forest and green shrubs/bushes give way to farm land. So then see cows, sheep and llamas. Other huge fields have barley and wheat which is being harvested. Immaculate looking crops and I am surprised to see harvesting before summer begins…. Is this normal time?
I am riding close to the coast most of the time. Amazing white sand dunes marching their way inland.

Lovely looking beaches and some tiny rocky islands off shore. At Geraldton the road heads in a bit and I reach my booked b and b at Northampton. Old miner’s cottage owned by a couple of retired techers. They had a cyclone through here 18 months ago which damaged many rooms including their own home. Still not fixed so they are living in a motorhome. Before that they suffered from lack of business due to covid !!.
Nov 29th Tues
Lovely breakfast with the owners outside my room on the terrace. They are an interesting pair. I am staying here on my way down so we decided to finish our conversation later as I need to leave early.
Off I go at 7.30…should have been 7am. It is going to get hot today. 40c. Fill up and really on my way. Farmland gives way to scrub with big trees then green scrub and finally as the heat grows it’s pretty burnt up countryside. How anything lives I do not know. Roadhouses are the stopping points providing fuel and food/drink. So the sign will say the distance to the next. For me it was 148kms (90 miles) followed by 40 miles. The road was inland and it was straight, hot and unceasing!

I saw one emu family…all bunched up half grown and about 20 of them. Sadly they disappeared into the scrub as they saw me coming. They only other Iiving thing were two goats.
My bad knee ached after a while as rather acutely bent on this small bike. I stop for about 2 mins at a time to stretch it , and my throttle hand. Heat and flies require you get going fast. It takes the flies about that time to get inside the visor of my crash helmet which I keep on and down when stopped!!
Two nice long tea stops at the roadhouses means I survive and as the road nears the coast it is cooler with the sea breeze. I arrive in Carnarvon by about 3am.

Nov 30th Wed
Quick breakfast at 7am and off. It seems not too bad heatwise and for 3 hours it is not. During that time I stopped and when I am out of the cafe it was much hotter. Slightly less to do today but not near the sea really. The road is not all straight but virtually no stops. From the one I had there was nothing! 230kms (145 miles). I had 2 places on the map but they were merely a parking place with one bit of shade.
Traffic minimal. Countryside does vary. Fruit farming outside Carnarvon but it did not last long. Then it was very sparse and then more green.

Few hills at the end as I neared Nanutarra roadhouse, my nights stop. More road kill so saw quite a few large birds of prey eating the dead kangaroos. They are very elusive so no photos. Bike is great so on we went in the heat. Had to be 35c or so or more. I reach my roadhouse, the most basic of my nights stops. I was pretty sure it did not have WiFi so was prepared to turn on my data roaming. However Vodafone will not say hello to the local network Telstra. Bit of a blow. Perhaps should buy a local sim card…
My room for the night is round the back in a portacabin. It is a single room with its own bathroom. Does the job, tv and air con, kettle and fridge. The only thing I need is communication.

That’s mine for the night…46.

I go and get a drink and end up back propped against a tree with another lady . It’s still hot. Glorious sunset.

Other lady born in England, working here for the summer and then back to Bali where she lives…now on her own. Then indoors to order food. Kind worker there allows me to “hotspot” and just make contact and download map for tomorrow. Thought it was shorter than today but not….same.
Dec 1st Thurs
Up early and breakfast just after 6am. Cylist there!

He is heading south but has many days of intense heat. His load is mostly water in plastic bottles! I am fairly mad too heading onwards. So off by 6.30am. First thing is a large long legged bird standing in the middle of the road. Not Emu…legs not that long. I saw more, mostly in pairs. They are Swamp Harriers. My road takes off the highway now as I near journey end…last day of getting to Karijini. However it seems its 280kms to the first stop…called PB. I do not have the map proper…280, that is tough again. But it is coolish….ish. By 8.30am it seems as hot as ever. In 3 hrs I see 10 vehicles. Road is perfect, if only I could cover it quicker! I see quite a few different birds of prey and for once flocks of smaller birds. I stop for brief leg and arm stretches but keep going while the heat builds. Flies, thank goodness, have not been too bothersome lately. I think it is high 30s, temperature. 40s becomes unbearable…

Getting some shade for once.

I finally reach PB, Paraburdoo, thank goodness a petrol station. Two nice females in there and one fetches her phone so that I can do a hotspot very quickly. Quick WhatsApp to family, email partially and the map. I have another 139kms to do…more than I thought. I drink tea and a cold drink. On I go again after cooling in the Shell station shop.
I finally get there after a short , 3kms ,stretch of corrugated dirt road. No one to greet, just an envelope telling me where my eco tent was and that low season had begun today.! Great! Find tent.

My so called Delux eco tent.

I am now properly hot after going slowly on the dirt road. All is hot. One small fan in tent. Electricity so weak it will not charge phone and run the fan at the same time. No kettle, no teabags etc. No cold water. Just lukewarm water from the tap….drinkable and tasty. Many messages that I must take my rubbish away with me at the end but none to say what goes on etc. No WiFi which I knew about . Am I going to enjoy this? Flies now seem in evidence.
Dec 2nd Fri
Apparently I was told this was low season when they asked for the balance while I was in Bhutan. This also told me that I needed to bring all my food for 5 days! Joke…on the bike where my bags are and no panniers. Since I was in Bhutan and the demand for money was number one I did not see these points. So last night I had to buy emergency rations that they kindly offer of frozen burgers in a packet and mixed frozen veg. That is what I can have for the next 4 nights too. To go shopping is not simple. 160kms round trip in the heat. So stay length is now under negotiation. I will stay 3 nights. See Joffre gorge today…

I swam in this pool.

and ride the bike 10kms on red dirt road with corrugations there and back to see Hancocks and Weano gorge. Other gorges are too far away for bike and its fuel.

I swam here entered where the handrail is.

There are other reasons to not stay.
Artificial pillow covers…in this heat???
Ants in the bed, red dust on the floor so red marks on sheets unless super careful.
I mustn’t moan about WiFi but no real network either.
Poor food as discussed.
I was given the impression this place was full. There seems to be a few but I am very much on my own. Not what I wanted.
Warm but nice drinking water.
Having to zip up the tent flaps everytime so you do not let flies in. Bathroom roofless so flies are there as well as frogs in the loo…they like it apparently!
Flies, now bought net for head.
Heat! 38c /40c today and same for next few days.
Lack of power…cannot charge phone and run fan at the same time.
Plus points for today …I trudged to Jorre gorge and went down to the pool I could see. Path went from classification easy to expert! No other way down but made it.Did enjoy sitting in the shallow water and cooling. Wonderful bird noises and was all alone. Possible best bird noise from a Butcherbird. Sun bathing is just not on far too hot. There were two pools, and a third lower down which I could have got to but all alone thought I had better not.
I ate again my burger and veg. But did have a chat with the bar staff..a pair who have left their permanent jobs and now are itinerant. No one else came in.
Dec 3rd Sat.
Decision made to cut and run tomorrow. So today I make the one journey I can on the fuel I Weano gorge. 11kms plus return on a corrugated dirt road. Horrible corrugations so spent my time creeping along the edge going from side to side. There was no traffic so made no matter. Then changed from jeans and boots to shorts etc and took the trail down to the gorge leaving bag and helmet by bike. Australia is very good re not thieving…
Its hot! But trail is not long and many signs of danger takes one to Handrail pool via a very steep rail in the rocks. Lovely pool and a heap cooler air than above. I am alone but after a while a Spaniard turns up followed by 2 German girls, an Australian, 2 French and finally a Swiss and another Australian. Very international. Spaniard and I had explored further and found a cooler bit of water and then below us a larger bit …no doubt cooler still. But we could see no safe way in..nor out!! Back we came. Had several dips/swims and then came back on the horrid dirt road. Nice to have had company.

Entrance to Weano pool.


Head net and water bottle. !

Thats it for here…pack up and go early tomorrow. Hope I make it to the petrol station in Paraburdoo….with the 2 girls.

Dec 4th Sun
I do set off early about 6.30am. It is not exactly cool! Goodbye to some flies and the frogs.

Just enlarge the photo to meet the frogs!

So make it to Paraburdoo. Two girls not there but I have a wonderful cold orange drink, and then I go next door to a garage to ask if they can put some oil on the chain. They do oblige with some oil on a rag. Great. Then it was the mindless section of road to Nanutarra roadhouse. Hopefully they have my email about change of date. The straightish road, little to no traffic the miles to do and the heat takes its toll. No shade to speak of to stop in. I do find a tree, put net over my head and the flies are furious they cannot get in. Buzz,buzz, buzz..the noise is annoying too!!! Its no good stopping really, prolongs the agony of the hot road. It is like a furnace today…touching 40c I guess. Waves of hot air hit you.
So keep plugging on and arrive about 1.30pm. I was dreaming of an ice cold Coca-Cola. So I had one, all the sugar, the real thing!!! Brilliant. Room is available so into my air-conditioned box. Tv even! I did not get these luxuries in my Delux eco tent. Bike is doing well. Fuel is expensive up north…about a dollar more per litre.

The river at Nanutarra roadhouse.

Dec 5th Mon
Temperature at Nanutarra was to be 43c today so I set off to get away by 6.30am. No breakfast though this is a 24 hr place and I could have done. Very oddly I am cold. There was no stunning blast of furnace like air as I stepped out of my room. I do my motor cycle jacket right up and am only warm enough. Surely I will get hot soon? But no….there is a cool breeze and nothing gets too hot. I reach Coral Bay with no problems by about 10.30am. I check the whole place out. It is small and there is not much choice . Its one holiday park or another or the backpackers. Soon sorted and I have a room with kitchen but no bathroom for 2 nights. There is a cafe with free wifi so get a few messages and catch up a bit while I have breakfast. Swim, beautiful bay, but careful of the sun. Book snorkel boat tour. Eat at ‘Bills’. Nice lady comes over to talk while I eat ,with her son. We chat…

Coral Bay.

Fish at Coral Bay.

Dec 6th Tues
Lie in! Take a snorkel tour boat. Snorkel on the reef till many are cold, including me. Cold wind too. However lovely coral, not bright colours but huge . Fish of many kinds, not big shoals but they were there. Apparently more kinds of coral than barrier reef. Saw 3 turtles, Greensea turtles. They have 4 kinds here. The lead guide says he saw a Reef shark. They also have Manta rays. My waterproof camera is in Dunsborough! !, Ashore I went to the cafe with internet and two cheeky birds, one which I think is a Pied Butcherbird and the other is a Yellow throated miner bird.

Yellow billed Minor bird.

A Pied Butcher bird…I think a lovely song bird.

Relax, swim and in the evening ate at Reefs cafe where I chatted to a Swiss couple who have hired a camper truck and are touring for 3 months…not just Australia. Strangely they are finding Australia expensive. They find their own country expensive too! We all do!!
Dec 7th Wed
The intense heat has gone. Packed up , I head to a little shop to buy some Christmas presents spotted the day before only he opens for just 3 hrs….8am till 11am. Nice lady from Bills is in cafe next door and tells me they had great snorkeling with Manta rays. 5 of them! But I must go and easy trip down to Carnarvon and back to same hotel. Took photos on outskirts of river…the Gascoyne river. Had a swim in pool and generally relaxed.

Old railway relics  at Carnarvon.

My next door neighbour for the night!
Dec 8th Thurs
On the road by7.20am but the weather feels cold so no heat to beat. I have a long day…425kms. The cold is really quite bad. Still have just a t shirt on. Rest of clothes packed and strapped on bike . Do jacket vents up and put neckie on. Make sure sleeves tight at cuffs and zip up to my neck. I am hoping it will warm up but it doesn’t really. Its the headwind making it so cold. I am straight into the wind . No hassle with finding shade today. I find 3 Swedish men instead at a stop by a river. They Re all birdie people and have hired a camper for 5 weeks to travel from Darwin to Perth via a wriggly route. The countryside now starts to become more farmed….leaving the outback behind by the time you reach Geraldton…just south of Northampton.

Wedge tailed Eagle…a big bird who enjoys carrion.

I reach my old couple at the Old miner’s cottages in Northampton by about 3pm and enjoy some sun on their terrace. Then off to the pub for supper. There many men are watching multi TV screens depicting greyhound racing, horseracing , cricket and horse trotting racing all at the same time. There is one commentary about a race….not sure which!! Take half my meal in a doggy bag to have for lunch tomorrow…too much for tonight.

Dec 9th Fri
Huge long day …467kms which ends up at 500kms. Off at 7.40am. Its still cold…ie about 18c. Meant to rise to 22c. This is a good 20c lower than a very few days ago!!! Again its that headwind. Today I have my only long sleeved extra layer on…a cotton polo neck. Tonight its Perth, staying with the Brazilian lady I met at Singapore Airport…Clara. The bike’s chain is definitely a bit loose. I have been oiling it lately with singer sewing machine oil…all I found. Doing the job…just! Call in at garage and they loan me an adjustable spanner to do the chain. Onwards….saw dead Emus yesterday, but today saw 4 nice alive ones… Done so well on progress that I take a slower road even closer to the coast from Yanchep to Perth. The house building going on was mind blowing. Then in Perth I got very close to Clara’s flat until ģetting swept along by various freeways. Got there in the end!!
She lives pretty centrally and so we went out and saw the Christmas lights in the centre and ate a pretty bad vietnamese style meal. Late to bed…not used to it lately.

Australian  Christmas tree.

Dec 10th Sat
Final leg to Emma and co in Dunsborough. 250kms. Its still cold. Reaches 21c but in the headwind feels much colder. Bike has been amazing…just over 2000 miles and never missed a beat come heat or cold. Honda 250 VTR…well done.
As far as motor cycling on this holiday I am done. In Australia for another month.

Jan 7th Sun

I am shortly leaving Australia.  During the past few weeks I have been with my daughter and her family. I was given a few tasks to do. One was notably to fix  a little Yamaha PW50. Called a Peewee it is for children and adults that still want to be children! Its kickstart seemed to have failed and the engine did not turn over. It is a 2 stroke with twist and go throttle ie  clutchless. What was wrong? With the aid of some vague workshop sheets, I took the head off, piston was attached okay. So engine had to come out of the frame. All tiny sized. I then chickened out of splitting the engine, anything might spring out at me and so it was engine into the car boot and off to dealer. The boss was not a helpful man. VERY negative . Anyhow, smiling  at the mechanic we proceeded and mechanic said it would only take a short while to take apart and then we could see what needed fixing. He thought kick-start shaft. Looking up on youtube later I could see what might have broken. But it was not that. It was a nut that had come off the end of the clutch shaft. It had caused other small damage to some small parts. No real problem but the very negative boss said I would be lucky if they got the parts before I left for England.!!

In the event the parts were there when they opened up after the New year. In the meantime I had replaced air cleaner by ordering my own spare part ” from the east…..never arrive in time according to boss man” which came 2 days later. Cleaned the filthy exhaust out, and generally cleaned the bits dangling from the frame, carb , oil pump and head.

Got engine back 2 days ago, one day of refitting and the result is below…thank goodness.!

I have also , with an electric sander and a gruesome head, sanded through various layers of leaded paint in their old railway carriage . Emma and Mike bought it a year ago. Think it is destined for residency.

All dressed up and ready to sand.

I did most of left handside and the whole end.

Some swimming in powerful waves, some swimming in more peaceful waters. Weather has been good for me, not too warm but also windy. Some gardening,childcare and transporting children around. The little Honda 250 is for sale. I will not be back for at least two years so I think it should  now be sold…owned it for 12 years.

Self and son in law.

Self and daughter  Emma.



Asia Oceania