Western Australia

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Western Australia

Western Australia
New home

Rolf Henniges’ childhood memories came back to life during his trip to Australia. So there is something familiar in all that red nothing in the west of »down under«, between the outback and the Indian Ocean?

Rolf Henniges


As a kid I watched almost all westerns on TV. Whenever the cool hero stepped through the double doors of a saloon, the conversations of the guests present suddenly fell silent and all eyes were on him, I pulled the covers up to my nose and looked at my father. It’s a shame that the Wild West only existed in films. Almost 20 years later, the legends of the last century seem to have come back to life. Dusty, I get out of the saddle of my Tenere this Sunday at noon. The cross boots click on the floorboards of the only bar within 300 kilometers with every step. The conversation between two bearded men falls silent inside, their eyes follow me. It’s the same scene as in the movies. But it was in 1994, and the bar is located in Sandstone, a town of 56 people in Western Australia. Your suspicious greeting sounds like the suppressed cough from a stuffed mouth: “G’day mate, ha’ya goin?” “Not too bad!” I reply with a cheerful undertone, and the foundation for a small talk is laid. Ben and Tony are farmers out here in solitude. With a few cattle and occasional jobs in the ore mines 280 kilometers away, they earn the few dollars you need to survive in the outback. They have already dug for gold, but to no avail. “You need a little luck,” the landlord interjects. “The main thing is that you can still pay for the beer,” Tony says, and everyone laughs. The ice of suspicion has melted and they want to know where I’m going and where I’m from. I started in Perth two months ago. There I was advised to go south. The outback would be too hot in January and therefore too dangerous. I followed the advice and strolled south-west along dead straight streets that are lost on the horizon. Infinite grain fields and remote farms dominated the image of my first two weeks on the red continent. Time seemed to have stopped here. Behind every knoll I suspected a guy like John-Boy Walton. I couldn’t get rid of the feeling of traveling in the 50s. Lonely, huge, dried-up trees clawed their way out of the farmland like dead fingers. Mute witnesses of formerly extensive forests. Suddenly, however, I have a canopy of leaves over me. Huge carribrees, a type of eucalyptus almost 60 meters high, lined the streets from Busselton. It was like driving through a tunnel. In the middle of paradise on the ridge of the “Stirling Range” I made the decision to go north again, to the outback. I was looking for adventure. And I didn’t really care how hot it got. In the “Pinnacle Desert” near Lancelin, a bizarre landscape made up of thousands of up to four meters high sand-lime stone pillars, I wanted to visit Dave. He had a gold claim near Kalgoorlie and invited me for a beer sometime, if I should ever go there. After a visit to the famous “Wave Rock”, a huge, wave-shaped stone monument, after 450 kilometers of dusty slopes I landed back on the asphalt to Coolgardie. It was only a stone’s throw to Kalgoorlie. Dave’s address was easy to decipher, but difficult to find: “Dave Morse, Claim 361”. “Somewhere out there,” I was answered when I asked. It was hours before I got there. And three whole weeks before I left the claim with a few nuggets in my pockets. For 20 days Dave and I toiled outside in the fields and after work we went together through the pubs of the 20,000-inhabitant town of Kalgoorlie, a melting pot of the soldiers of fortune. A bastion of take-aways, brothels and bars in which the diggers could put their finds back into action. The myth of bygone times had been preserved here in the middle of nowhere for over 150 years. At 42 degrees in the shade, however, I left the outback towards the coast. “And that’s how I ended up with you today,” I finish my story. The bar is now well filled. Many have listened to my story and want to know more about the large eucalyptus trees in the south. I am amazed but it is normal. People are born, live and die in small towns like Sandstone. Without ever leaving the place. I spend two days with Ben and Tony on the farm, repairing fences with them. Then I move on towards the coast. It’s still almost 600 kilometers to the Indian Ocean, by Western Australian standards only “just over the road.” When I arrive at Kalbarri National Park, I climb for days along the rugged rocky coast and drive my Tenere on small slopes through lush vegetation to tranquil bays. Except for a few tourists from Perth, it’s quiet. On the other hand, things look different in Shark Bay near Monkey Mia, around 500 kilometers away. Here fishermen started feeding wild dolphins 35 years ago. This event has survived to this day and has become a tourist attraction. Visitors from Europe and Japan are carted to the bay in buses to watch the feeding live every morning at 9 a.m. At 11 the spook is over and you spend the next 22 hours waiting for the next day. A local couple recommends Coral Bay as the underwater attraction of the west coast. The Ningaloo Reef off the coast is a paradise for snorkelers and divers. But even for those who are afraid of water, a trip in a boat with a glass hull offers breathtaking insights into the striking underwater world of the fifth continent. The almost 800 kilometer long Ningaloo Reef is smaller than its big brother on the east coast, but less visited, cheaper to explore and no less spectacular. Together with the mostly blood-red sunsets, this bay captivates me for a long time. My further route to Exmouth depends on the tide. The slope along the beach, designated as “4 wheel drive only”, is characterized by deep sand passages and can only be used at low tide. At high tide, the arms of the Indian Ocean protrude far into the interior and make the track impassable. However, if you take this arduous journey, you will reach the most beautiful beaches in Australia. Snow-white, endless and embedded in turquoise, clear water. I have plenty of drinking water for camping, because the body demands a lot of fluids in the high outside temperatures, which is also 800 kilometers later when I try to explore the gorges of the Hammersley Ranges at 40 degrees in the shade. Here, near the mining town of Tom Price, gigantic cracks were formed millions of years ago by erosion. Rocky gorges, overgrown with spinnifex grass and fresh water reserves (gorges) make this national park a worthwhile detour, but not only the distances are huge here in the west. In the “Cadillac-Bar” in Pt. Hedland, I can get the most gigantic steak burger I’ve ever seen for just five dollars. “We call him Big Mac,” the landlord smiles at me and disappears back into his kitchen. The dusty Digger sitting across from me nods encouragingly and gives me valuable tips for the onward journey. “Forget the tourist stuff here,” he tells me calmly. “You want to get to know Australia. So go to Eighty Miles Beach. There you can almost catch the fish by hand. And if you want adventure, take the old Gunbarrel Highway from Alice to Perth. ”His words keep me going. In fact, a simple line with a bait on the said beach is enough to catch the fish from the open sea at high tide. While I am standing in the warm water, small sharks often flit between my legs and try to steal my prey. For four days I share the endless beach with other “hand rod fishers” and philosophize with them about fishing. After casual freedom, the tourist metropolis Broome shocks me with all its business. After a short stop at the pearl farms in Roebuck Bay, the wheels of my Yamaha shake the corrugated iron of Gibb River Road. The vast Kimberley Plateau is one of the most pristine areas in Australia. Wild, rugged and now in the rainy season with a multitude of »creeks«. My heart pounds every time I cross these little streams. The law of the crocodiles applies up here, and no farmer dares venture out into the wild without a large-caliber weapon. After 750 kilometers of “dirt road”, I reach the asphalt strip again undamaged. At the Turkey Creek gas station, two Australian “stockman” (cowboys) wait for the helicopter pilot to fly over the bungle-bungle ranges. A short time later I am sitting in the helicopter with them and am speechless. It wasn’t until 1983 that this unique landscape, which looks like giant honeycombs from the air, was discovered and declared a national park. After landing it starts to rain, and I have to remember the words of the digger from Pt. Hedland think: “The adventure is in the desert.” In Halls Creek I check my motorcycle one last time, bunker drinking water and after 1,300 kilometers of slopes on the Tanami Desert Track, I reach Alice Springs. My detour to Ayers Rock is only a short one, because I want to go back to the west. After 1,300 miles of silted up kilometers on the Gunbarrel Highway, three months later, encrusted with dust, I am back at Claim 361 and knock on the makeshift door of Dave’s barracks. It still exists, the Wild West, and I’m right in the middle of it.

Info – Western Australia

Western Australia covers a third of the continent. In contrast to the diverse east, the large inland state consists largely of desert. Around two thirds of the population lives in the Perth region.

Motorcycle transport: The cost of a ship transport to Perth including port and quarantine fees on the Australian side is around 900 marks. The motorcycle should be checked in approximately five weeks before the start of the journey. Transport by plane is about twice as expensive. All forwarding agents and the cargo departments of the airlines provide more detailed information. Travel time: The seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere. Midsummer, from December to March, is the rainy season in the north. There can be sudden flooding that paralyzes all traffic. For the north and the center, the months of May to October are the best travel time, for the south and southwest December to March. Documents: The visa available at the Australian Embassy, ​​Godesberger Allee 105, 53175 Bonn, is valid for six months and can in individual cases Australia to be extended to one year. In order to obtain insurance (around 200 marks a year) for your own motorcycle (the German one does not apply), you need a “Roadworth” document (around 120 marks) issued by the police as a basis. A carnet de passage, available from ADAC, is mandatory for importing a motorcycle into Australia (210 marks for members). Refueling: The supply network on the coast is relatively dense, but a range of 400 kilometers should be possible. Few tracks inland (Canning Stock Route, Gunbarrel Highway, Tanami Desert Track) require a tank capacity of 900 kilometers. The gasoline prices are between around 85 Pfennig (coast) and 1.30 Marks (inland). Overnight: At most road houses it is possible to camp or rent a room (around 40 Marks). Some national parks offer free campsites with sanitary facilities or a voluntary contribution is required. Campsites are available in almost all places, but wild camping is also tolerated. The route: Most of the tracks that are still in use are in relatively good condition, but consist almost exclusively of corrugated iron. Many outback residents overestimate the driving skills of motorcycling tourists and attest a “no problem mate” even on difficult slopes. In extreme passages on the Original Gunbarrel Highway or the Canning Stock Route, it is advisable to notify someone of your journey so that you can be found after a fall. The motorcycle: Most of the enduros we know are also in Australia. Exceptions: Honda Africa-Twin and Yamaha XTZ 660, for which there are no parts. For all other models, spare parts are only available in the capital, Perth. Non-type-specific products such as tires and chains can be found in almost every place. New motorcycles cost around 25 percent less than in Germany. Literature: Edgar P. Hoff: Australia for Globetrotter, Hoff Verlag; M. Fulles / Dieter Walter: Australia – unknown west, Renate Schenk Verlag; Christion Pehlemann, Outback Manual. Very good map material is available from almost all contractual partners of the RAC, Automobile Club in W.A. available. Time required: six months Kilometers driven: 20,000

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