Day 4.5 – Sunday Afternoon/Evening
My riding companions had left before 1 pm, hoping to get back to Newcastle before dark.
After waiting to see which bikes had won in the show, I headed off to meet them.
Having forgotten to get fuel before leaving Tamworth, I pressed on to Murrungundi for fuel. This must have been the most expensive fuel stop of the trip – I think 95 octane was about 158 or 160 cents a Litre. Wanting to conserve battery power and arrive at a reasonable time, I didn’t get any photos.
After about 20 kilometres of being stuck behind two cattle trucks that must have been carrying the most diarrhea-stricken cattle in the area before finally taking a turnoff ahead of me, I decided it must be break time. I stopped in Murrurundi to post this observation on Facebook:
Stopped for a break in Murrurundi. Stopped back at Murrungundi for fuel. Musswellbrook isn’t far down the road. Was there a surplus of the letter M when these places were named?
I soon had a couple of replies from friends who knew their Eastern States geography:
Then you come through maitland haha
You didn’t get to Mullumbimby ?
Of course, by the time I read these I was stopped in Singleton for fuel.
The park across the road from the petrol station looked nice, as there were a few large pine trees. I parked Scarlet while I sat at the picnic table under the gazebo and ate my chicken wrap.
After looking up into the tree branches for a while, I realised that while the trees may well have been pine trees, it was not pine cones I was looking at! If you can’t see what they were from the picture below, click it for a better view.
Still not sure? This sign might help…
Yep. I was in bat country.
After posting that little gem to Facebook I was back on the road.
Just before 6 pm it got very dark just as I was approaching Newcastle. My GPS battery was totally flat and getting this far had already drained the solar battery pack, so I stopped to switch over to Google maps on my phone and use the remaining charge to get safely into town.
Just as I had put the address details in for my host’s place, I got a call from him asking how far away I was and if they should wait for me to arrive before heading to the club for dinner. I was about 17 km away at this stage so said I shouldn’t be long but had to go as my phone battery was going flat. Little did I know…
Just as I got into the outskirts of Newcastle, My phone battery went completely dead. Immediately after that, most of Scarlet’s lights stopped working – the speedo and tacho lights went off, the indicators were only lighting dimly and the tail light seemed to have gone as well.
I pulled over under a streetlight on a busy main road and tried desperately to get the solar battery pack to charge enough to recharge either the GPS or the phone so I could make a call or at least get enough directions to finish this leg of the journey.
After this failed, I switched Scarlet off and had a look at the fuses so I could hopefully at least get her lights working again.
Sure enough, I had blown a fuse. Swapped it out with the spare and checked the lights. All looking good, I tried to kick start her again. Nothing. Thinking maybe she had cooled down too much, I tried putting the choke on. Nothing, only now I could smell fuel faintly.
I pushed the choke plunger back in and the housing came off its mount. After several minutes, I managed to get it back into position. I tried kicking her over again and still nothing.
During this time, no cars had seemed to notice my plight and the few bikes that had come past had also ignored me. By this point I was about ready to literally kick the bike over, or possibly set her on fire. I screamed my frustration with Newcastle and its inhabitants in general to the world, swore at Scarlet, begged and pleaded with her to start.
After a couple of minutes, I calmed down and resigned myself to the fact that I might be waiting a while for help. Not sure exactly how long I waited when finally a car stopped and the driver got out to ask if I needed help. I explained my predicament and asked if he had a phone charger or a stereo with a USB port I could use. He was happy to oblige and even called a friend of his who “knew a bit about motorbikes” to get some advice on how to get Scarlet started. The advice while sound enough was pretty much what I’d tried already but I kept kicking her over until eventually she started.
It then turned out that the young man who had stopped to help was a missionary of sorts who wanted to talk to me about God. Not being the religious sort myself and wishing to politely end the discussion without causing offence, I thanked the Good Samaritan for his assistance and went on my way with enough charge on the phone to get more directions to my destination. This lasted me long enough to discover that I had several missed calls from my host and find a 7-11 petrol station along the way where I politely asked the cashier if he could plug my phone charger in for a few minutes after explaining my misfortune once more. He agreed and I bought myself some sandwiches to eat while I waited.
After about 10 minutes, I was able to check my messages and get Google maps to work for long enough to write down the remaining directions. My host and his other guest had already been out for dinner and returned and the other guest had gone to bed exhausted from the ride. It was only about 8:30 pm but I was finally able to rest after a VERY long day.
I guess that’s what I get for stopping in bat country…
END PART FIVE