Dark and Dusty: Do you Dare?
WORDS STUART PHOTOS DEAN WALTERS
This adventure ride is perfect for bikes of any size, but the machines with smaller fuel capacity should always carry a spare five litres of fuel whenever heading Outback.
There is excellent bitumen up out of Cairns and heaps of dirt (and some sand) to enjoy. You do need to keep your wits about you, as there are numerous ‘G-outs’, which are essentially wash outs over blind crests. The bulldust is thick and there are numerous bulldust holes along the way which will cartwheel you down the road if you don’t see them. Remember, help isn’t just around the corner, it can be hours away and being sprawled out, broken on the side of the track is not the way to go. The vultures, lions and tigers are lurking in the surrounds just waiting for your fresh meat to consume – being eaten alive is not something many would wish for, so be careful!
You also need to pick the time of year you ride as during the wet season you won’t be going anywhere along this route. April to early November is perfect and not overly hot for this ride, but remember to take fresh water to replenish yourself and some trail mix or a packet of snakes to keep you going. If you’re going to ride this route later – around December or January, take litres and litres of water. You will need to refresh often. Be prepared because you may (and probably will) hit the wet season and be blocked from riding some of this route.
Everything is available at Cairns and this is the starting point of this ride. If you’re flying into Cairns there are a number of hotel/motels not too far away.
BLACK MOUNTAIN ROAD
Do you dare ride THE Black Mountain! It’s dark, it’s scary, but most of all it’s slippery and exciting. Depending on the time of year Black Mountain Road is slippery in parts,
if it’s been raining, most of it will be slippery. Being in a forest with the trees overhanging the dirt, it rarely dries out completely and adding some clay into the mix makes for an ‘exciting’ ride.
Plonked out in the middle of nowhere, Mt Carbine has fuel and a pub – what else could you ask for!
Mt Carbine Roadhouse has food available too.
Palmer River was one of Australia’s major gold rush locations from back in 1873. Most of the
surface gold has long since been prospected and but there remain a handful of deeper mine projects in the area. Don’t let that put you off, bring along your metal detector and see if you can strike it rich!
Laura is one of those tiny places that it is easy to ride through (with a population around 80 you can understand why) unless you want petrol or a beer. The Quinkan and Regional Cultural Centre is worth visiting and the Aboriginal art in the rock galleries around the settlement is simply amazing.
Anyone interested in Aboriginal art will be staggered at the richness, strangeness and beauty of the images which cover wall after wall of the rock galleries, which are hidden far from where anyone but the local tour guides can venture. An unforgettable experience.
The Station has around 15,000 head of cattle and is about 2.5 million acres in size. You can stay there in one of the basic cabins and if you want a shower, the brown saltiness of bore water is what you get. There are no food facilities, fuel and so on other than the accommodation. Fuel is available either at Laura or 22km further on at Hahn River Roadhouse. To discuss your stay, contact 07 3012 8958.
Total distance – 440km
Fuel – Cairns, Mt Carbine, Laura Road conditions - www.tmr.qld.gov. au/Travel-and-transport/Road-and-traffic-info/Traffic-reports-and-road-conditions or call Ph: 13 19 40
Head north out of Cairns and get towards Mossman. Around 15km out veer left onto Kennedy Highway and follow up the mountain out of Cairns for 12 or so kilometres to turn right onto Black Mountain Road.
Ride through Black Mountain for almost 50km and turn left onto Euluma Creek Road, ride about 5km and turn left again onto Mossman Mount Molly Road. Turn left again
a few kilometres down the road into Coodgie Street, then turn right onto Mulligan Highway. For 30km or so you’re on the bitumen heading to the fuel stop at Mt Carbine.
Once you’ve filled up you’re still on the bitumen for around 60km where you need to turn left onto Whites Creek Road.
About 80km later turn left onto High Street, then right 3km later. 30 odd kays down the road turn left onto Palmerville Road and head north-east to the end of the road where you turn right to head to Laura (about 20km), or for the optional overnight stay, turn left to head for Koolburra Station.
The entrance to Koolburra Station is about 50km from the T-intersection above and it’s about 6km along the entrance road before you get to the station itself.