My plan initially was to make the 3,038 km ride from Katanning to Halls Creek in a leisurely 8 to 10 days. That plan was scotched, first by the revelation that having been employed for more than three years, I was expected to give three weeks notice instead of the two weeks I believed, and secondly by my employer’s refusal to allow me to take any leave during my notice period. I would have taken it anyway (as I believe they hoped I would) had it not been for a friend tipping me off that if I did take leave without consent, under WA law, I would be considered to have abandoned my position and would lose all entitlements. That amounts to almost nine weeks holiday pay. A not inconsiderable sum.
So I stayed. That meant that I could not meet my commitment to start at Halls Creek on Monday 10 November. I was determined to get there as soon as I could, anyway. As my stuff was already packed up and despatched, sold or given away, I dossed with Andrew and Smudge for a few days, and with Jennifer, Miranda and Matt for the last night before I left Katanning.
Dave tried to arrange things so he could join me on the ride again, but it was too short notice. Just as well really, because the ride was not as much fun as it should have been, due entirely to the sense of urgency. Something that is not conducive to a pleasant carefree holiday ride.
The first day was as joyous and carefree as such a ride should be. I did not leave as early as I had planned, but I was on the road by 8 am. By early afternoon I was in Dalwallinu and pleased with my progress. I stopped there for half an hour or so to chat with Debbie, a colleague who also came over from NZ and who also had a Vstar 1300.”Had” being the operative word as she has been forced to sell it following her knee operation. Sad. I know how much she loved it.
I did not make it as far as I thought I might, the late start meant that I had only got to Payne’s Find with only an hour left before dark. Dave and I camped there on our last trip up this way, so I stayed there that night. 619 km was not a bad effort. If I could keep that up, I would be there in 5 days. On Tuesday rather than the Monday I promised. Surely that would be ok?
The next day I rather ambitiously planned to get as far as Newman. Once again I did not make it, I rode only another 616 km and spent Saturday night at Kumarina. I was determined to stay on schedule and decided to try for Port Hedland the next day. I rode hard all Sunday, stopping in Newman for breakfast, then pressing on. I crossed the Tropic of Capricorn late morning and raced on, covering 848 km in the day and arriving in Port Hedland exhausted and suffering from the heat. I carried plenty of water with me, and had poured as much over myself as I drank. Nonetheless I was decidedly buggered and beginning to think I had bitten off more than I could chew. I was not sure I was going to make it. The heat was intense in my jacket. I knew it was only going to get worse from here on. I was going to kill myself with heat stroke. I needed a plan.