Home / Site Map / My Harley Blog /

Darwin in under 60hrs

By Wom Battle
Category: Rides

After knocking off a SaddleSore 2000 miles over the last two days (Newcastle to Glenbambo, Glendambo - Tennant Creek) on my Harley-Davidson® Road King® today was to be a non stressful 990km ride from Tennant Creek to Darwin.  I only needed to arrive there by 6pm or so for the first night of a party that was the NT HOG® Rally and the 130kph speed limits in the Northern Territory weren't going to hurt the trip.

There were a few things I needed to do along the way.  It was bascially a reconnaissance trip to help me decide what IBA ride I was going to have a crack at on the way home early next week.  The kicker in this part of the world is fuel. There's no 24 hour fuel between Katherine and Tennant Creek (673 k's) and the fuel tank on my Harley-Davidson plus the 20 litre jerry can would not get me that distance. So if I was to have a go at a 2500km in 24 hour ride (BBG2500K) I would need to leave Darwin, refuel at Katherine, refuel from the jerry and arrive at an open service station closer than Tennant Creek so there were no delays.  I had my eye on Renner Springs and Elliott.

The second thing I needed to do was work out what speeds up to 130kph were optimal for fuel consumption so I could make the 316ks between Darwin and Katherine on the way home without wasting time topping up from the jerry.

Enough babble. I was up reasonably early and feeling pretty good considering I'd ridden 3,290kms in the last two days.  Some oats, sultanas and coffee for breakfast and rather than make the same mistake as yesterday I walked out of the hotel into the street to see if the service station across the road was open, it was. I'd removed everything that was detachable last night (including the racks) just to be cautious so it took me a little while to put the bike back together. 

Fueled up, it was time to head north past Three Ways and on to Renner Springs 161kms away.  It was immediately noticable that it was warmer than yesterday and I was thankful for that.  At Renner Springs I asked the staff what time they opened, 5.30am, however not only did they only sell regular unleaded they'd actually run out of fuel and didn't seem too sure when they were getting more.  Renner Springs was discarded as an option for the trip home.  I did have a home made sausage roll while I was there, tasted good but I paid for it for the next few hours. Mental note, stick with sultanas and servo pies.

At Elliott, I refilled with PULP and was I was told they opened at 7am, even on the public holiday on Monday... perfect. I was making good time, the next stop was Mataranka 313k's away and on this part of the trip I found myself constantly adjusting my speed to eat the k's up as quickly as possible using the GPS and distance to empty indicator on the motorcycle to theoretically get me to the next stop on fumes.  I rolled in on reserve and put 22 litres into the tank...perfect again.

I left Mataranka intending to refuel in Katherine so I could check out the quality of the fuel and test the speed/distance/fuel use between there and Darwin.  I needed to work out what the optimal time to leave would be.  There was a lot of road kill in this area, for better or not the kangaroo's rotting on the side of the road were smaller than those down south.  However for the first time I also saw road kill cows which I found quite disturbing after my near miss last night.

The eagles in this area were also noticeably large.  I'd dodged them before when riding my Harley-Davidson in North Queensland a while back so I knew they were slow and didn't typically take good evasive action.  At one point I saw on the far right of the road five or six hawks feeding on a carcasse.  They all took off to the right away from me, good news.  What I didn't immediately see was a large eagle in the grass to my left who decided to follow them.  With ABS in full use the big thump was still unavoidable. The eagle hit the right side of my screen, the auxilliary lights, the handlebars, mirror and my right knee. Fortunately it didn't upset the 500kgs of steel, chrome, rider and luggage too much and I stayed upright.  Very regrettably the eagle didn't.

I pulled over and saw that the auxilliary light had been bent back onto the screen and thought the Harley was looking a bit like Marty Feldman. I pulled it forward to as straight as I could and saw that the bracket holding it was bent.  There was also a dent in the chrome upper fork cover. Oh well.... just keep riding, just keep riding...

In Katherine the first thing I noticed was the 24 hour service station there had no premium unleaded fuel and may not have it early next week.  The Shell did and I found out it opened at 7am. A couple of things to plan for.  The next thing I noticed is that it was getting quite hot and I was feeling it.

The last 300k's or so was uneventful and I noticed that I was still making pretty good progress. The GPs was telling me I was likely to arrive in Darwin before 4pm (our time) which meant that the whole trip from Newcastle might be done in less than 60 hours. Not a record I'm sure, but 2.5 days is better than 3!

I followed my nose and the GPS into the heart of Darwin and miraculously rode straight to my accommodation, the Medina Grand Waterfront. The ride completed in 59hrs 45m. A quick check in, unpack the bike and time to wash the thermals and other riding gear which by now were getting quite ripe.

I had decided to try to book my Harley-Davidson into the local dealership, NT Motorcycle Centre, for an oil change so I made a quick call and fortunately they told me they could fit it in tomorrow morning.  I also called some of my local HOG® Chapter that were in town and organised a lift to the Rally site to start the party.

The party started! Gin and tonics, good food, good people and lots of stories of rides to Darwin from all over Australia. Renewing friendships and making new ones.  Then a very, very, very good night's sleep.


Disclaimer: This non commercial website and its content is not affiliated with or associated in any way with the Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Harley-Davidson Australia, the Harley-Davidson Owners Group® or any Harley-Davidson® Dealers in Australia.  The use of the terms Harley-Davidson, and Road King® are unavoidable because that's what I own and ride.  This website,  called "My Harley Davidson" , and any opinions or comments expressed herein are purely about my Harley-Davidson Road King ownership experience, a truly great experience at that. I have no intention whatsoever to infringe on any trademarks or copyright ownership of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company or anyone else.

October 2021