I dropped in at the rangers’ office at Mary River National Park, and told them I’d be heading over to a couple of spots on the road into the delta. After getting a run down of the area, area briefing, and a glimpse of the impressive swampboats in the shed and a chat about their engines, I was on my way.
I was nearly at the end of the unsealed road, at the lookout point, when I saw a large pool of water settled after the recent rains. I went around it. No worries. A little ahead was another pool just like it. I went around it, got about halfway, and felt my rear wheel sinking as I realised I wasn’t moving forward. More than half the rear wheel had disappeared into the earth.
“Right, I’m stuck. Better get my gear off, shed some weight from the bike, and get ready for some mahi”. I got off the bike and on the throttle, standing beside the bike, rocking it back and forth as it dug deeper into the soft wet clay. I put it in neutral and picked up the back, and then slipped and fell on my ass. I eventually managed to get it unstuck, but then dropped it on its side. I picked it up and moved it off the road, where it sank again, entangled in a bunch of branches this time. A few minutes of pruning and snapping, and a lot of sweating and swearing later, it was out, and manoeuvreable. I walked around looking for the hardest ground to ride it back onto the road on.
It was only 9 am, but the heat and humidity were cranked all the way up in this part of the continent. 45 minutes later, soaked in sweat, I started riding back out to the ranger office, giant smile on my face. I told the rangers of my little ordeal, then headed out towards Kakadu, Jabiru and Ubirr.
That was my last day on the near bald stock tyre. Old shoe. My new Motoz Tractionator GPS arrived the following day. I scrubbed off all the dirt which had by then solidified and caked on, and had the rear fitted at Alicross Motorcycles.
I’ve made friends with people of all ages here: fellow KLR riders met through FB groups, people met through carpark conversations starting with questions about the bike or trip, other travellers. They’ve offered me meals and accommodation, and warm and insightful hours long conversations about motorcycles, travelling and life.
My last night in Darwin will be memorable. On a very well lit main street corner, I was kissing a woman I had asked out for a drink earlier. I felt her take her hand off the back of my neck momentarily, to hoist her middle finger at someone driving past yelling out “Are you guys gonna get a hotel room, or what?!”
A beautiful moment.
I’ve cherished my time with those I’ve met, and wish I had more, but I’ve gotta be on my way.