Maciek and Danielle Murdoch, Blackwater, Australia

Limping into Emerald with Fuel Pouring Out

| Australia

This was to be my first day on the rode alone – I wasn’t entirely sure how, I was feeling about that. Excited, nervous again, sad but extremely happy too. Not because of Maciek leaving, just because now, I’ll be heading directly north to Darwin and I guess this is where I see my adventure really kicking off. When we first arrived the night before an old writer, ambled over in his short shorts, hiking boots with socks poking above and a wooden stick in one hand. He headed straight for Maciek’s bike and asked him all about it. Feeling slightly left out, but use to the lack of attention my small bike gets, I sat back and enjoyed my beer. One thing he did let spill was an old forgotten path down to three swimming holes.

Once the tents were down and everything packed up, we ride down to the waterfalls car park. Stomping down the narrow track in my motorcycle boots and pants, behind Maciek, I am sweltering. This is what you get when you bury my pants and shoes deep into my panniers.

We find the overgrown path around the log and follow it down to the waterholes. I couldn’t wait to take my motorcycle gear off and jump in. Stripping down to my underwear, I dive into the largest water hole, while Maciek runs around with his camera snapping photos.

Moving up to the middle pool, I steer into the deep blue water, wondering what down there and how deep it is. Maciek strips down and asked me to test the depth. Sitting on the edge of the pool, I shake my head nervously. ‘oh come on, I want to jump in’. I have never like rivers, especially when I cannot see the bottom. After much convincing, I gingerly slipped in, sinking further down trying to touch the bottom. With my arms stretched up, I could neither feel the bottom or the top. I rise and shake my head moving off to the side. Without a second thought Maciek leaps off the rocks and lands exactly where I tested.
After a nice long soak, I clamber up to where I left my clothes. Only putting on my tee-shirt and my motorcycle socks and boots, I’m ready to head back up the hill. There was no way I was walking back up there in my thick motorcycle pants! With my wet bra soaking through my tee-shirt Maciek laughs and pulls out the camera.

On the way out of the park, we stop at the main look out. This is where we will say our goodbyes before heading down the hill to the main road. Sitting on the park bench we look out over the amazing red and white cliffs down the plains below. We share our final meal together, a block of chocolate Maciek has been saving since Brisbane and a bottle of water. After a photo and a quick hug, we ride back down the hill to the turn off.

It has been really nice to have Maciek come along for the first few days of my trip. He was a real sweetie, cooking me dinner when he saw my pitiful supplies. Making sure we had enough beer and wine, taking most of the photos you have seen to date and of course changing my tail light system over so I would be safer on the road. Thanks Maciek, I hope your South America adventures kick off on the right foot just as mine had.

Arriving at the intersection where we grab hands, and say goodbye. ‘Are you sure you don’t want me to come along?’ ‘You can come if you want’. But I know he’s got his own dreams to follow. This might have been my first test run, but it was his last before he packed up the bike for his South American trip in 6 weeks’ time.

With Maciek turning right, I turn left heading back to Blackwater and onwards to Emerald and the unknown. Just as I hit a small township called Buff, my bike started spluttering, thinking I must have hit reserve. I leaned over and switched the tank over. The bike still spluttering, I looked over and noticed fuel gushing out all over my engine. Then it stops. Rolling to the side of the road, with my clutch pulled in. I park my bike and leaped off to inspect the problem. Turning the fuel on, I see it gushing out the drain hole at the bottom of the calibrator. Hot and slightly shitty, but glad to have this happen in this tiny town. It didn’t dawn on me what the fault was, that was clearly there in plain sight. I just leaped to conclusion that the floats must be stuck.

A guy in high vision gear ambles over and asked me if I’m ok. I tell him my problem and that I’m trying to find some shade where I can pull my carburettor apart. He points out a spot outside a school on the side of the road and asked me if I need any water. ‘not much’ knowing I’ve got some, but not much and I didn’t know how long this was going to take. He walked back to the offices in the train station.

A few minutes later, another guy returns with the water, explaining he rides Harleys and uses to have a couple of dirt bikes, he sits down beside me to have a look at my carburettor with me. Telling him what happened, he agrees with my conclusion. Carefully, I pulled the bottom bowl off without removing it completely from the motorcycle. We find the float in perfect condition. We think over the problem again, and then he notices the missing screw I had previously glanced over. Pulling out my spare bolts, nuts and screw bags, I find nothing that fitted.

Pulling out my roll of gaffer tape, we plugged up the inside and taped up the outside with the tape. Pulling it all back together, it leaked a bit, but it was not going to be a big problem. He told me there is a bike shop in Emerald, 90 kilometres away. Relieved, that’s all I had to go, I set out for Blackwater, for fuel. When refuelling it, I could see it was leaking faster. So I pulled off into the shade and re-taped inside and out once again. Riding onwards to Comet, fingers crossed the whole time. Arriving into the two building town, I pulled over to find the gaffer tape had once again, let go. Re-taping it for the third time and final time to put it all back together, only to discover for some reason not as good as the previous. I bit my tongue for the next 40 kilometre stretch.
Counting down each kilometre, sweating not only from the heat but the stress I arrived into Emerald. Hoping that the motorcycle shop will be easy to find, I rode down the main road. Sure enough the Suzuki sigh glowed with a massive hallow around it. Rocking up the front door, the owner was standing outside, as said ‘You must be hot’
‘I am!, I really wish I could ride down the road without my pants on at the moment!
Another old fulla, replied ‘Don’t do that or there will be lots of accidents!’
‘get inside quick, the girls can help you out’ added the owner.

Entering the cool air-conditioned building I breathed in and relaxed, Help was at hand. Explaining my dilemma, the girl got the Hayden from out the back. He took one look at my taped up carbie and laughed ‘I’ve never seen that before!’  We then headed out the back and searched through the large box of discarded carburettors. Finding a few different types of screws, we headed back out into the heat. One fitted in perfectly.

Sensing that this was a good motorcycle shop, I explained my other issue. I thought I was burning too much fuel and there was black smoke / silt showing up on my rear mud guard. Hayden talked his boss into letting my take my own carburettor apart out the back, saving myself some dollars. After pulling it out and breaking it down, Hayden pointed out the needle. Where the washer sits, is nearly worn right through!

I headed back inside and asked if they had any on the shelf. No, it was something that was going to have to be ordered in. Being a Thursday, it wasn’t going to arrive until Monday. Happy, I now do not have petrol pouring out of my carbie, and possibly found the reason for the smoking. I do not mind waiting a few days.
I checked into the local caravan park, and what would you know, there was another Kiwi bloke called Dave, riding a Ducati. Later that evening, two more motorcycle travellers arrived towing specially made trailers. I think I’m going to enjoy my stay here in Emerald.