Saturday, February 28, 2009

Day 899, The Last

The day that I had been riding toward for so long final came, the finish line on the farm in the Mallee. This day I had imagined on several occasions since leaving South Africa over a year and a half ago, I would imagine the final turns the final track up to the house, recognizing things I could remember, who would be there waiting at the end, the end of an epic journey half way across the world that would be completed on a farm in the middle of the sticks.

Yes there is such a town name, "Speed"

As I left Adelaide it was all a bit surreal, this was it the last day, the last time to pack the bike up, to find somewhere to stay, to not have to go anywhere tomorrow, quite simple really, all those days of traveling, on the move, seeing amazing places, new adventures, they would end on this one day. Thankfully the weather turned it on for me, cool breeze with clear skies as the last 420 k’s clicked away under the wheels. I made it to the tiny town of Speed and there on the post was a sign, “Welcome Home Robbo, only 8 k’s to go”, reading this really made it a reality, only 8 k’s to go I had made it, the bike had made it. Then it was the last 4 k’s up the dirt track to the farm, I screwed the throttle and headed the mother ship down the track, I rounded the final bend and there waiting under a Finish Line Banner was quite a crowd, everyone clapped and waved as I rode past, it was a great feeling, under the Finish Line I rode and parked the trusty steed for the last time and there waiting for me was my mum and sister with her family which I have not seen for over 5 years, it was great to be home.

Roberts road, the last few K's.
Rounding the last bend.

Amongst the crowd of about 90 there where old friends, family and other travelers I had met on the road, it was great to catch up and we all spent the afternoon catching up on old times and exchanging stories over a few well deserved cold ones!

Dirk waiting beneath the Finish Line.

So that was it, I had made it, when I departed London 899 days ago on the 16th of September 2006 with Amy I never had a clue what was to come, how it would be, how far I would get, well now I know, I conquered what I dreamt of, riding a motorbike all the way, yes it took 3 different bikes to cover the 102 991 k’s, one been stolen and then the Chinese Sunik to make the 7000 k journey from Mongolia to Bangkok before reuniting with the mother ship. The adventures are endless, the list of new and amazing friends, the wonderful experiences, things I would not swap for anything.

One very happy mum.

In short this is how it happened, from London it was through Europe then head first into Africa, where I watched Amy develop into the most incredible motor bike rider I have ever seen, remember Amy had never ridden a motor bike in her life except for a scooter and here she was taking on the desert sea of the Sahara. Central Africa bought some testing times with drunken soldiers forever wanting bribes and on several occasions staring down a barrel and finally onto South Africa where we parted company and I went alone. East Africa saw me mix it with some amazing tribes and meeting more amazing Over Landers from all walks of life and different countries, another bout of malaria in Ethiopia, the first been back in Angola. After 14 months I made it out of Africa and entered the Arabian Peninsular into Yemen, a new continent bought a new world with new adventure but I never expected the ultimate hurdle having the mother ship stolen.

Eventually after 4 months I was on the road again north to Russia through central Asia where I had the pleasure of meeting the wild man from Belgium, Dirk. Together we traveled across Mongolia, raced across China aboard the 150 cc Suniks, watching them vibrate and fall apart around us, all the way to Bangkok, what a wild and crazy adventure we had together. At this point I returned to Dubai for the UAE desert Challenge just to give it a shot, manged 2nd in class, 11th in the world, so a new dream was born, to compete the Dakar.

Back to Bangkok and south through South East Asia, been so close and wanting to just get to Australia I crossed Indonesia as quickly as I could, this still took almost 6 weeks, windy roads and millions of people making the going slow. Once on home soil in Darwin it took a leisurely 4 weeks to reach the end. What a journey!

What’s next for me? What does one do after been free for so long, I will relax for a few weeks then start the dreaded hunt for a job and begin the next part of my life, all I know is I need to keep it as interesting as possible because anything less for the time been will be not enough, already I am looking toward my next dream, to start racing motor bikes and ultimately to race in the Dakar in South America it will happen so watch this space, after all that’s what life is all about following your dreams and making as many come true as possible.
I have a few requests from different groups, including some schools to give a talk so if anybody is interested in hearing a few tales to your group then don't hesitate to get in touch via email.

Thanks everybody for all your support, it was welcomed weather I was having a blast or facing a challenge, like you have enjoyed reading the journey I have enjoyed reading your comments. I can say that there will be more in the future and another adventure to follow so see you then.
And remeber
“In the end it will be alright and if its not alright its not the end”.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Meat Pies and Blow Flies

I had a week relaxing in Darwin and soaking up all things Australian. I have felt like a foreigner in my own country, to see drive through Bottle shops, Holden utes with dogs in the back, to hear the Aussie slang as thick as the amounts of vegemite I was spreading on my toast, it was sure strange to be back after 5 years. I also got to appear on the Northern Territory ABC radio talk show for hour, I do have a face for radio!!

Eventually I set off south down the Stuart highway, it had to rain just to remind me I was not out of the tropics yet, it added for some interesting riding as in a few spots along the way there had been so much rain that it was flowing deep and fast across the main highway, there were several cars that could not even go through but the trusty mother ship sailed through no problems forming a huge bow wake.

The rivers of water across the Stuart Highway.

In no time I reached Alice on the long straight roads I remember longing for in Indonesia. I was joined by my mate I worked with in the UK, Al in his 4WD, we explored kings Canyon and swam in the remote desert waterholes along the Mc Donald Ranges before looping back around to The Alice for a taste of the night life, interesting to say the least!

The road trains that snake along the long straight roads of Outback Australia. Now that's a truck!
Then it was further south again, dirt all the way to Port Augusta, we headed off toward the Simpson Desert following the Finke track, this gave me a chance to look at the terrain on which I hope to race in the future The Finke Desert Race, looks like fun just need a sponsor now!

Just in case I had forgot!
With the Simpson desert closed we only visited the edge, Dalhousie Spring, a hot oasis in the heart of Australia, although there were no other travelers out there we were not alone we had the company of a couple of million flies, wow I could not believe it, ever since arriving in the red centre we were almost carried away every time we stopped, I thought this was one thing the glossy travel brochures don’t advertise, come see the red centre and the millions of flies, I have never had them anywhere in the world like in the Northern Territory.

I took a very similar photo in the desert in Kenya, except its called the red centre here for a reason, amazing colors.

Young Aboriginal boy in the community of Finke.

Aboriginal kids lining up as Al hands out a few lollies, more reminders of Africa.

Color coordinated!

A border crossing with a difference, no customs, no craziness, just a sign in the middle of the desert.
Dalhousie hot Spring, an amazing Oasis.

I guess the heat out there makes people have strange ideas, a pink roadhouse!

What its only 15340 k's to London, I must have made a wrong turn somewhere, took me over 100 000 to get here!

As I followed the lonely desert road I still had to remind myself I was in Oz, the GPS read 730 k’s to the finish line, here I was now traveled over 100 000 and only 700 from the end, I wondered what it will be like not having to ride anywhere everyday, not set up my tent, check the oil level, cross a border, dodge crazy drivers which I must say the roads seem empty in Australia and what people you do pass they wave just to break the boredom of the endless roads. This emptiness was what I had dreamt of, the stars at night are simply stunning, the sunsets beautiful and the quietness of it all and what else have I enjoyed, of course a few meat pies!
Al enjoying a chicken parmy and cold beer in the famous William Creek hotel, yes they are knickers hanging from the ceiling!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

G'Day Mate

With talk like that it can only mean one thing, the Kathryn Bay docked at Darwin on the 31st of January, 5 years, 1 month and about 20 days since I left Australia.

The journey over was great it was nice to relax in comfort, listening to Captain Pedro’s stories of sailing the world and eating great food cooked up by Emanuel the cook. We did arrive on the 30th but since we were early the Kathryn Bay had to anchor in Darwin Harbor for 24 hours until it had its turn on the wharf, so for a whole day I could see Darwin city out my window only a short distance away, for once I felt patient, what was one more day after some of the waits I have experienced, besides I already felt home.

So there I was in Darwin, seeing all things Australian, holden utes, drive through bottle shops, empty streets, it was a welcome relief to where I had come from. I went to stay with a Benno, a mate I have not seen in over 10 years, it was off to the pub for a few celebratory drinks and a catch up on old times, joined by another mate from the Mallee, Burnsy, I actually felt foreign in my own country, it felt strange but with three mates in a pub, Robbo, Benno and Burnsy, I could be in only one place in the world, Australia.

So now has begun the tedious task of clearing the stead through Customs and Quaratine, I will have it I hope by Thursday and then it’s the last leg south.

For those of you interested I have set an arrival date of the 28th of February, I will arrive at the farm at 1.30pm after a BBQ lunch so everyone is invited to be there and see the last metres of my journey come to an end, the more the merrier hope to see old and new friends there.

Hoist the anchor

Three years ago before this trip began I had the pleasure in meeting Mrs. Perkins in the UK, yes the same as Perkins shipping, it is this lady who said the quote that I have in my title “a wise lady once said……” So I wrote Mrs. Perkins a letter asking for special permission to get a birth aboard the vessel that would take my bike from Dili to Darwin, unfortunately company policy did not allow this which I understood. But that was three years ago and now here I was in Dili with permission to take the ship.

The MV Kathryn Bay.

As I made it back to the port I saw the Kathryn Bay docked and off loading containers, this was my ride, it was huge, a far cry from the wooden Dhow I took across the red sea to Yemen with a crew of a few men, a sheep, a goat and a squat loo straight into the ocean! I approached a guy with the Perkins insignia on his uniform and said Hello, his reply was, “welcome Allan Roberts come aboard we have been expecting you”. As I stepped off the dock just like that I had left behind the madness that I had known for so long, the madness I have loved and at times loathed but steeping onto this ship was for me stepping onto Australian soil, for me it was 5 star, extremely clean, Captain Pedro and his crew, all from the Philippines made me feel very welcome and I was showed to my room, wow, it was two rooms, en suite, hot shower, air con, this was amazing, I needed the shower as I was dirty sweaty and tired. After freshening up I was then invited to the mess for dinner with Captain Pedro, I had yet to eat all day, it was delectable.
Captain Pedro in the bridge.
What a way this would be to arrive to Australia, in luxury aboard a container ship. My dream was never to have to fly any part of the journey and to ride a bike the whole way, well I did not fly but the mother ship did from Ulaan Batar to Bangkok but I crossed on the 150 cc Sunik and now this, I am on the same ship as my bike, I did it, I achieved what I set out to do, overland on a bike from London to Australia via Cape Town.

I think the green container has the precious cargo inside.

But like I said in a previous post I am not there yet, I still have 3000 k’s to cover before the final flag drops.