Tempers Fray as Ivan Grunts

Drone Spying on Ivan

Drone Spying on Ivan

And so we left Minilya Bridge to get the 140kms into Carnarvon completed as soon as possible. We were seduced by a the promise of a cabin and comfortable bed and a day off. But before that we had a play with a drone.

Michael had purchased a shiny drone and had been haranguing Bob for the chance to use his new toy. There were promises of some spectacular photos from up high of Bob in the rugged Gascoyne hills. Now Bob is a sort A to B person, that is, get the job done without fuss or too many diversions. Michael despite having his training wheels on, approached the task with boyish enthusiasm. I was not optimistic about a quick result. Anyhow he got the drone up and hovering over the van. Only problem was it was not transmitting any photos. He pressed buttons, consulted instruction books and made frantic phone calls but all to no avail. Sadly the drone did not resurface on the trip.

Bob and Bill having a beer at Carnarvon

Bob and Bill having a beer at Carnarvon Hotel

Carnarvon was a great town and quite different from the mining towns like Port Hedland and Karratha. The unique location on the coast where the Gascoyne River meets the Indian Ocean. It is recognised for its market gardens, banana plantations, tropical fruits and seafood. The brochure said “a vibrant and diverse community which offers exciting culinary delights”, so we thought a pleasant Friday night was ahead of us. So after checking in at Wintersun Caravan Park, where we were given the A1 cabin. Self contained, two bedrooms, tv etc. Very comfortable. We were afforded these “luxuries” because the owners were friends of Bob’s son in law. It was really appreciated. We moved all our food inside as we no longer had power into the van. We did ten days worth of washing and generally got ourselves organised. Now for the pub and those culinary delights! The Carnarvon Hotel, right on the water, beckoned. A great pub with a top restaurant on a busy Friday night.

Bill at Barber at Wintersun Caravan Park

Emma giving Bilby a Clip

Bob in coffee shop Carnarvon

Bob enjoying a Coffee

Next morning it was food shopping, and finding the best coffee shop.  I managed to grab a haircut from an entrepreneurial lady at the Caravan Park doing haircuts for $20. When I told her about our ride she handed me back the $20 I had just given her. So chuffed.   The day flew and after collecting our washing we were having a pre dinner drink. Ivan was parked outside our cabin and we thought we would get some diesel rather than in the morning to save time.

Michael started the van…well actually he didn’t because it would not start, and we mucked around for half an hourv before it started. Then when we engaged the gears it shuddered violently (as if the transmission was not engaging. It was very disconcerting and we wondered whether we would get away in the morning. We had a tight schedulev and had media and Rotary commitments in Geraldton. So we called up Britz looking for some guidance.. Now its Saturday night and their service calls are all handled from their HO in NZ, with a 4 hour time difference.. We explained the problem and flagged a replacement vehicle was needed urgently. Well that wasn’t happening they said. They had no vehicle in Carnarvon, spare or otherwise and Geraldton was a bettter bet. We gave them twenty minutes to come up with a solution and after being on the end of a spray from myself and then Bob ratchetted it up another level. The end result was still no result although Bob’s threat to talk to Channel 9 had them jumping! We had to solve the problem ourselves.  After another flurry of calls we found a local RACWA mechanic who took the call from the local RSL He seemed to understand the problem (flywheels, sensors etc) was helpful but there was no diagnostic equipment he could access until Monday. He doubted whether any local mechanic could address the problem. So we had to make a decision. We went back to Ivan, started him up, and he grunted and groaned, like the gearbox was objecting. We soldiered on and took it out on the highway to realise it was only at low revs it shuddered the way it did. So we had to chance it and leave first thing in the morning as planned. Waiting for Britz to find another van was not going to happen. We all went to bed feeling some angst and trepidation about tomorrow.

In the morning we said a prayer that firstly, Ivan would start, and secondlyEach to his own, it would be driveable. It was a standing joke that at prayer time I would pray to Jonathan Thurston and Michael and Bob would pray to their gods. Each to his own and either way, they all delivered! A call to Britz to sanction our decision so that it was their liability not ours and we were on our way and saying goodbye to Carnarvon. As you know 900kms later Ivan rolled triumphantly into Perth without a shudder. Go figure.

 

Photos: courtesy of Bill Pixton

Sweeping Broome for a Purse

We were all looking forward to Broome. We had been on the road now for thirteen days and some rest and a bit of a look around were called for. Chief cook and all round helper was leaving us after Broome and Michael Small joining us. Also Jan Southern was coming over to see her son and cheer us on. So in many ways four days in Broome was special.  On advice we checked into the Roebuck Bay Caravan Park, ideally located on the shores of the bay and not too far from the town centre but further from the expanding Cable Beach sector. Probably not a good decision to stay there, will explain later. We found a coffee shop at Town Beach and started our time there looking at the view and having our first real coffee for a while. After that we looked around the old part of town, mango trees, corrugated iron shops, red rocks and learnt about its romantic history with the pearling industry and mixed ethnicity.  Plenty of tourists around this resort town, mango trees, red rocks and interesting characters.

From there we took a taxi to popular Cable Beach and Zanders, where we sampled a few brews and watched the dramatic sunset with a camel backdrop. Another taxi back to our caravan park and some chit chat with our neighbours. We befriended a few people and told them about our bike ride, and they mostly made small donations.

We were all a bit intrigued about our neighbours (they were all friendly) and the life they live with their swish  caravans. Some are away for months at a time, and they mostly get settled in  a big park like this one and basically set up another home with all the mod cons they are trying to escape from. They slumber a lot, don’t over exert themselves and retire early. Its like a big retirement home. To each his own I guess.

On the Saturday afternoon Sal and Bob escaped to the mall for a foot pedicure. They they were luxuriating in getting their toes and feet scrubbed, making chit chat with the locals. Well, after a lot of cajoling I joined them and the poor lady was aghast when she saw my battle scarred feet. Searching for the biggest industrial scissors she could find she went to work much to the amusement of the other customers.

More socialising with the neighbours and hearing how tired they were from their busy day.

Kooljaman at Cape Leveque is a unique wilderness camp

Now Sunday was a special day for Sallee and I. We had the chance for a day off and booked a trip to Cape Leveque, some 200kms north on the rich red dirt road on the Dampier Peninsula. We were sad to leave Bob to his own devices for the day (sob, sob). The whole Peninsula is either government owned, or owned by various indigenous clans. There is little commercial development and it retains its rugged beauty and ancient history. We were driven along with another couple, in a new Landcruiser in a degree of comfort to Beagle Bay, the original pearl farm at Cygnet Bay and then to Cape Leveque itself. Here there is a very good restaurant with an innovative menu using local ingredients and bushtucker.  Locals in Broome will do the 400km return trip to dine there, and wander the beaches with their stunning red cliffs.

 

 

 

 

 

We returned to our camp to find Bob in good form entertaining the neighbours.

Radio interview with Spirit FM

Next day we did a radio interview with Spirit FM. Ivan needed some TLC at the Britz depot, so that was next. Then it was back to Cable Beach to meet Jan Southern who arrived that afternoon. This time we met at the Cable Beach Resort, which is a huge resort hotel and the favoured spot to view the Cable Beach sunset. Jan’s son XX and partner Beccie completed our group and it was a very convivial night. Lots of laughs and good vibes. 

At that moment we all seemed remote to the rigours of  the ride. That was about to change.

Back at that camp we had some more laughs with our neighbours. We were only ten metres from Ivan with screen door shut but not locked. Sal had dumped her bag and purse on top on the lounge inside but on view. When we came back the door was open and purse gone. Sal was pretty shaken and we looked and searched everywhere. Sal was adamant she had not misplaced and it must have been stolen right under our noses. It was a sad note to end the night and we all felt let down. Others in the camp had complained about pilfering.

In the morning we accepted reality, informed the camp managers (they shrugged) and Sallee cancelled her credit cards. There was no cash in the purse to speak of.  She still had a few days in Broome, after we departed, and with no cash, licence or ID she was not happy. Then later that day something remarkable happened. She got a call from the recycling centre in Broome to say they had her purse. It was part of recycled rubbish collected that day that was hand sorted. She had a phone number inside and got the call. Apart from being a bit dirty it was all there less the $20. The thief was very responsible and considerate in discarding the purse in the recycle bin. If it had been general waste it would not have been found. Anyhow the honesty of the lady in the transfer station outweighs the dishonesty of the thief. Broome does have it share of social issues and these need to be understood before we get too judgemental.

photo courtesy of Michael Small

Next day Michael flew in and we made some attempt to integrate him into our daily procedures. A bit of a shock to him no doubt. That night we were entertained by Lyn and Bill Willis from Broome Rotary Club. They invited a dozen members of their Club to their house and cooked up a bbq feast  of beef, lamb and turkey and a range of salads. Their home is something special and geared up for outdoor entertaining.  We had a wonderful night, their hospitality and camaraderie was genuine. They made a sizeable donation from the Club and also some individuals gave something extra. They also gave us a necklace with a pearl setting that we can use at a fundraiser auction in the future. Bob gave a brief talk about our ride and we departed in high spirits.

Lovely stroll into Broome’s Chinatown this morning. There is so much history here…indigenous community, pearling, bombing during WW2, beaut architecture and landscapes.

Next morning we were up at 4am to escort Bob out of town to commence his ride again. So ended our time in Broome and fond memories for this beautiful and rustic place. And goodbye to Sal for a month (xx).

 

 

 

 

 

Photos:Courtesy Bill Pixton

 

Kununurra to Broome

We enjoyed our couple of days in Kununurra. Trying to get used to the 2 hours time difference.

We stayed in a super busy caravan park all squashed in like sardines. Big rigs, big vans, big sat dishes. Grey nomads, mostly with assets, living the dream.

When we packed up Ivan and were ready to depart about 4:00am, we had a little misadventure. The last thing to do in the dead of night was to disconnect the water tap hose. But the valve failed and water burst everywhere. It would only stop if Bill kept holding the valve down. Only by holding the valve down could the torrents of water be tamed. Bob was ready to go, Sallee was losing it and Bill was like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke.  A long weekend, no maintenance staff around, and all the other wankers in their fancy vans, no one came out to help. They could all hear the commotion but it was not their problem. Bob went looking for help and finally found a man in his pjs to come out with a wrench. If it wasn’t so serious it would be funny.

Anyhow about 60kms north of Warmun we clocked over our first 1000 kms. Long way to go but we are up for it. Warmun RH was uninspiring but Halls Creek promised a different experience. It has high numbers of indigenous folk and tightly manages its alcohol access. We came across this butcher, you got to laugh, very Aussie.

That night ate at the Kimberley Hotel, a modern and busy hotel and restaurant with great food. A real surprise.

Then a 150km ride to Larrawa Station, a few kms of the highway.  Whilst it was unpowered they had good showers and toilets. This was a real find, a working cattle station dabbling in tourism. Ate with the family (Wendy and Kevin), farm hands and some travelling geologists, under the stars. And they had beer which made it a hit with Bob. We chatted and enjoyed their company and solved all the worlds problems. Had to be careful with the geologists though and avoid any criticism of the mining industry.

Bob up early and did the 140kms into Fitzroy Crossing.  We had heard a lot about Fitzroy Crossing. It was one of those places associated with the wild NW and the majestic Fitzroy River. When in flood it is one of the biggest rivers in the world. Stayed in a great caravan park where Sal and I had a swim while Bob caught up with his sleep.  Interesting clientele in the bar and Bob witnesses an altercation. Police and security people in attendance. We got the impression it happens regularly and no one seemed too concerned.

When Bob left early the next morning Sal and I had a rare opportunity to check out the river and the famous old low level Crossing. It is hard to imagine how much water goes down there in the wet season. Worth seeing.

Boab Tree

As we had a few concerns where we could stay Bob pulled out his biggest ride so far 232 kms and 10 and a half hours on the bike all the way to Willare RH. He is a really determined person when he sets his mind to something. Not much there though but it was Ok.  All pretty tired by then anyhow.

We have met so many people along the journey, in caravan parks, restaurants, pubs everywhere who come up for chat. So often they have a story to tell about someone they know and their personal experience with MND. It is truly moving.

Our next stop is Broome (next post) and we are all excited as it marks a point in the trip and a few days RnR,

 

 

 

Photos:Courtesy Bill Pixton

Ten Days in the Territory

Bob's Ride Northern Territory

Bob's Ride Northern TerritoryWe are now in Kununurra Western Australia, after ten days in the Territory. Time for some reflections on the experience so far. Somehow it feels different already.

Firstly our time in Darwin was centred around getting the van organised, buying provisions, setting up Bob’s bike, and planning the next week. The Rotary clubs of Darwin, Darwin Sunrise and Darwin North were all very welcoming and generous with their support. The boys (yes this is a mens only club) in the floral shirts made us laugh (how could we forget Fingers, Scruffy and others). Darwin Sunrise more like our own Club, smaller and a shorter agenda for the morning meeting, were entertaining and friendly. Whilst we didn’t attend a formal dinner, Jim Trobbiani and President Tony Allan shouted us out to dinner in a fine restaurant in the Casino. You couldn’t meet nicer people, one of whom had been touched by MND. The three Darwin clubs we met all made generous donations.

Now Bob does like his barramundi. So we ventured out on Saturday night to the swanky Char Restaurant. We wanted an early and quick meal before hitting the bitumen the next morning. Now it was Darwin so we thought casual was fine and rocked up in stubbies and tshirt. The maitre’ d was not impressed and after suggesting we find a more suitable eaterie, relented and ushered us outside to a high bar bench remote from his more treasured clientele. Anyhow the food was excellent and we skulked away both embarrassed and satiated.

On the road in the morning for Bob’s first ride of the fundraiser and we headed to Adelaide River Roadhouse. No problems with the 117kms. Dined at the tavern there made famous in the Crocodile Dundee movie. Next day we left early for Emerald Springs. It was here we met Grant Rawlinson, an adventure rowing and cycling 12,000kms from Singapore to Darwin, then to Coffs Harbour and then to New Zealand. You can see his story here.

Then it was 122kms onto Katherine. Interesting place dealing with some difficult indigenous issues. More of that later.

Bob's Ride Northern Territory

Bob's Ride Northern Territory Bob's Ride Northern Territory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stayed at the sprawling caravan park, met a few kind folk who made donations. Getting more into a routine with the riding, the food, rest and  support. And looking after Ivan.  Sal’s cooking has been a hit with Bob.

Bob's Ride Northern Territory

Bob's Ride Northern Territory Bob's Ride Northern Territory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victoria Roadhouse was our next stop 192 kms away. His biggest leg so far. Beautiful and scenic landscapes, the campsite on the Victoria River. Next morning away early for the relatively short trip to Timber Creek. Different style of place, plenty of shade and their own resident crocodile.Bob's Ride Northern Territory Bob's Ride Northern Territory

Day 6 Bob was away before 5:00am heading to Kununurra. We were unsure whether we could push through but Bob carried on over 230kms to arrive in the dark at Kununurra just over the border in WA. That completed our first week of riding and ten days in the Territory.

We have all got on pretty well without too many dramas. Often not having an internet or even phone connection has been frustrating. Whilst Bob finished the week pretty strong we are looking forward to a rest day.

Bob's Ride Northern Territory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Courtesy Bill Pixton

11 yo Angus Addresses School about Papa’s Ride

MND Speech

Hi everyone, today I’m telling you guys how riding 4000km is making a difference.  My grandfather has done two huge rides over the past 4 years for Motor Neurone Disease.  In 2013 he rode from Katoomba to Port Douglas, which was 3086 km, and in 2015 he rode from Perth to Sydney which was 3800km. this one is going to be about 4000km which means he’s going to be riding 200+ km a day.  This time he’s also raising money for Huntington’s disease, which does a lot of the same things as MND.  He set off yesterday and is hoping to arrive in late June.

So what actually is MND and Huntington’s disease?  MND and HD.   Well, they’re both diseases that affect the way your brain sends messages to the rest of your body.  They both affect the way you can walk, talk and behave.  Here are some videos on what HD and MND are. (Play clip.)  Even though the video said you would survive with MND for about 3-5 years Stephen Hawking has survived for more than 40.

As I said before he has done two other rides so here’s a video where he was on the news after he finished riding on the Nullarbor.  (Play video).

Now after all the money he has raised and all the kms he has ridden he is riding again and it’s going to be longer and hotter than ever.  This time he’s going to ride from hot humid Darwin to boiling hot Perth, and he’s got to ride 200+ km every day in 1 month.  He’s riding 4000km, in boiling weather, and a caravan to live in.  Easy right?  He’s doing all of that and all we have to do is walk the huge distance from the couch to computers and do the devastating, difficult talk of getting on to his website and give a couple of dollars for people who can’t walk talk and can barely breather.  Wow, what a difficult task.  You seriously have to go to his website in your lovely air conditioned homes and give a couple of dollars to a great cause.  By the way you can spend as much or as little as you want.  I’ve already donated $800 by buying this John Eales Memorabilia, which is the jersey he wore in his last game when we won the Bledisloe cup.

Overall please donate as much as you can, every cent counts, let’s smash our goal of $100,000 because it’s a great cause and too many people are affected by these two horrible diseases.  We need to raise awareness, money and support for everyone affected.  Thank you for listening and let’s beat MND and HD.

This video shows some of Bob’s last ride from Perth to Sydney 2016.

Bilby Goes for a Drive

Bob Montgomery and Bill Pixton on the road

Bob Montgomery and Bill Pixton on the previous Perth to Sydney ride

We moved to the Blue Mountains only two years ago. Previously we had been in Brisbane for 8 years and before that in Sydney.

I first met Bob Montgomery a bit after that when he came to one of our Rotary meetings. He was thinking about his Perth to Sydney ride which was commencing in September 2015. Our Club got right behind him, and I personally got very involved with Bob and Jenny and all the activities associated with that ride. Moreover I was attracted to Bob’s motivation, determination and enthusiasm for this ride and raising money for Motor Neurone Disease(MND). Bob has had experience with MND in his family and with other friends.

It is fair to say we became good friends.

This time though I will be in the field with Bob, going all the way from Darwin to Perth. Doing all sorts of things, promoting, organising the Rotary connections, taking photos and driving. You will see the little “Bilby” signature on many of them. Bob is of course doing the hard yards on the bike and at 73 yo remains an inspiration to our team, family and friends and to the wider community.

 

What else that has changed is that this time we are raising money jointly, and equally, for MND and Huntingtons Disease (HD). For those who don’t know I have a very much loved, adult daughter with HD. She was diagnosed about three years ago and has to deal with this every day of her life. She has already lost an aunt and has two uncles in advanced care. There maybe others in the extended family that also have HD but they have chosen not to be tested at this time. I have also got involved with Huntingtons NSW and know of the wonderful work they do to support those with HD and their families. All money raised goes direct to the two organisations and they distribute the funds to support their particular programs.

So it is fair to say both Bob and I have a personal commitment to this ride. We have “skin in the game” as they say. I am also very appreciative of Bob’s generosity by including HD in this fundraiser. The two diseases are similar in that they both neurologically based, both fatal and despite extensive global research there is no cure at this time. They have about the same prevalence rates. HD though is genetic in that the gene is passed on by the parents with the offspring having a 50/50 chance of inheriting the disease.

Now about that Bilby. My grandchildren call me Bilby and my bushwalking mates call me Bilby. Never sure why. Timid, cautious and endangered really don’t fit but the name stuck. I’m still a youngster compared to Bob and will turn 70 on the ride. I do a lot of community work with Rotary and am a board member with a not for profit organisation called Mountain Youth Services Team (MYST). A keen bushwalker, who enjoy outdoor adventures and an aspiring photographer with  a lot to learn. You will find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Planning! Planning! Planning!

Planning meeting at MND Gladesville left-right: Pauline Keyvar HD, Graham Opie MND, Robyn Kapp HD, Michael Small Rotary, Jenny and Bob Montgomery. Bill Pixton is taking the photo.

Planning meeting at MND Gladesville left-right: Pauline Keyvar HD, Graham Opie MND, Robyn Kapp HD, Michael Small Rotary, Jenny and Bob Montgomery. Bill Pixton is taking the photo.

We were all really pleased with the recent Golf Day. In fact we hope to make it an annual event.

It was successful and now that is out of the way, we can get back to the planning for the campaign and ride..

Over the next two and a half months, our energies are now focussed on fundraising, marketing, media and the logistics of the trip. Plenty to do but all good. We will keep you informed .

For more info on MND and HD Who We Are Helping

Bob Montgomery MND HD Fundraising Project Planner Diagram