Almost All Ladies Cape Tour 2019
Almost All Ladies Cape Tour 2019
The trip of a lifetime started up the hill from Cairns, at the North Qld Trailbike Adventure headquarters. Included were eleven legend ladies, five magnificent men and the two best lead and follow riders a group could ask for. We said our hellos and then geared up and headed off on a 1400km journey filled with creek crossings, the reddest of red dust, deep sand, beach riding, croc spotting and so so so many laughs. This blog is coming to you from myself, as usual, and the amazing Ellyse O’Connor. We have both had cool adventures before but agree wholeheartedly that our Almost All Ladies Cape Tour is the best thing we have ever ever done!
So much went down over the six fun-filled days, so let’s break it down.
We set off, using the tried and tested ‘cornerman’ system. Kevin, Ellyse’s dad was left on a corner to point everyone in the right direction. I waved to old Kevy and he figured that meant he could leave his post, which he did. And we lost a few riders. Fast forward to Pete the Sweet (Sweep) hunting the roaming riders down and we were officially on our way with all 17 of us. We spent the morning riding some fire-roads whilst everyone got comfy on the DR 400’s. I was of course on my trusty Husky fe350, Kim chugged along on her 12year old XR250 (and as it turns out, nursing a broken wrist the entire time – LEGEND) and Sarah also chose to cruise to the top on her Husqvarna fe250. Everyone else got the hang of their yellow beasts and we got into some of the coolest single lane I’ve ridden.
The day took a hilarious and unexpected turn when we stumbled into the middle of some hippy bush doof. Picture dreads, fannypacks, large pupils and a DJ in the tropical rainforest, with some artworks, red carpets, teepees and streamers… and all this and we’re only 40kms into our 1400km ride. Expectations were already exceeded!!
The remainder of Day 1 was all about the famous Creb Track and getting to know one another and then we arrived at the Lion’s Den Hotel, 30kms south of Cooktown. There was live music (mamamamamamaaaaaaa – inside joke), great dinner and we got to write on the walls and roof and any part of the building really (see picture). To sum up – heck yes for day 1.
After a long night for some in bunk style accommodation, mainly just the snoring boy’s tent, we were up and feeling ready for Day 2. Old Couso went hard and was hoping that everyone would catch a bit of ‘first night fever’ at the pub, but it was just him with the local old guy who played music on animal rib bones doing shots at the bar! And Couso is a machine so no harm done at the pub on night 1.
One of the really great things about North Qld Trailbike Adventures is that they have been running for 7 years and are always learning and improving and providing the best experience for their customers. On day two, we broke into two groups. Group A did Starcke’s track which was a silty bull dust track that was pretty rough, especially for Ellyse who spent the afternoon vomiting and laying fully clothed in creeks wherever possible. At first, we thought it was first night fever catching up on her, but she continued to be ill for 24 hours… so maybe a bug. Poor Elsy though! Elsinor was one of the crew that chose to give Group A a go, and she killed it. There was a super bull-dusty steep hill straight after a creek and I gave Elsinor a few pointers… and then she blew us all away and hooned up there like it was nothing!
Group B took a less intense track and saw waterfalls and had a ride on the beach and got back to camp slightly earlier than us. I had to carry fuel with me, as I didn’t put a large tank on the 350 but Woody – our fearless captain (WHAT A MAN) used it for another bike that had a fuel leak. There were a few little bike issues along the way, which is bound to happen, but the boys and GoGoGadget Tanya are so skilled a bush mechanics that we were always on our way quick smart.
We had a hiccup about 50kms from Camp. Ellyse and I were at the back of the pack (after a few spew stops), riding side by side doing about 80kms an hour. A wallaby jumped out and tried really hard to clean up Ellyse but swerved at the last second and unfortunately went straight under me. I have been riding in the bush for 18 years and it was first time I’ve hit a roo. It was super upsetting, especially because there was a joey who was too young to save, but Dean who was sweeping came across us and got us sorted and back on our bikes. Day two… Ellyse did heaps of spews and Jemma hit a roo.
Greg, the tour boss and company owner, gets to the Camp Sites before us and sets up and when we arrived into Camp at Kalpower, the smell of his stew was AMAZING! To get in from a massive day of riding and adventure, knowing that all you have to do is shower and set up a swag is pretty brilliant. (Worth the $ spent to head up as part of a tour!) After a few Young Henrys around the fire, and plenty of talk about crocodiles, we headed off to our swags to dream about the adventures to come on Day 3.
This blog is getting long and Ellyse and I are now is condense mode!!
We were still in the dusty dry country that is Australia, but dust moustaches were all part of it. We had the cornerman-ing down pat and we were all having the best time. I spent a bit of time riding with my Dad on day three. I wrote ‘Teddy Too Far’ on his bike on Day 1, and no-one really understood… but then as they got to know him, they realised that my Pappy is as enthusiastic about life as I am. The guy hadn’t ridden more than three days in the last four years, and we all thought that he was going to break himself because he is wild and takes shit tooooo-far. But he stayed on and was entertainment for us all.
There was heaps of cool fire trail where we rode side by side and we all got to play on the beach. It was so beautiful. We had a quick beer stop at the Sexchange Hotel in Coen, and dropped in a donation to the Royal Flying Doctors. We arrived to another camp site, this time on the Archer River, with everything set up and dinner was another winner – Chicken Curry.
Day 4 was even more amazing again! We started on private property and sick single lane made by the Man Woody and Pete the Sweet. North Qld Trailbike Adventures in the only tour company that you can access private property with. We then finished the day on Frenchmans Track. This track is hands down one of the coolest tracks I’ve ever ridden. I stayed up the front for most of this one, with our lead rider Woody and was puckered up hoping not to die the whole time. That man can ride a DR quick! The sand was starting to wear a few of the gang out but we all encouraged one another and stopped for breaks and chats and Day 4 will forever be in my mind as epic.
It was on Frenchmans where we got one of our only two flat tyres. Gemma (what a cool name!) must have been hitting shit hard and we go to see Woddy, Pete and Tanya in action on the push mechanics.
Day 4 will also forever be in my mind because we had to carry our motorcycles across the Pascoe river. This was a really cool experience. Ellyse was worried about crocodiles – had to dodge the rocks and the crocs she says! It was just something so different and having to pitch in and work together to get everyone’s bikes across the river was a great team building exercise and a great time in general! Never thought I would enjoy carrying DR400’s.
Day 5 was all about the Telegraph Track. I have a friend from home who once said to me, “OMG, the Telegraph Track is my happy place. I would do anything to get back there.” And I remember thinking to myself that maybe Jodie was a bit of a kook. Turns out, the Telegraph Track is my happy place too! There were so many amazing water crossings (and a heap of drowned DR’s. Woody and Pete sure can de-drown a bike!), plenty of pristine sand and we stopped and swam at the two of most beautiful waterfalls. Day 5 was honestly a treat a ride! A few of us also rode down the famous Gunshot, where plenty of 4×4’s are destroyed. The CHAD is crazy and just went for it and then a few of us followed his lead.
Once out of the telegraph track, we hit some extremely corrugated red roads and pinned it to the Jardine River Barge, then onto Bamaga. My husband’s Mum, Donna, worked at Bamaga as a teacher a few years ago and it was a spin-out to see how bloody remote she was working there.
The final night, with all our new besties, was spent at Loyalty Beach, where we watched the sun set over the water (on the west coast of the Cape). And were shouted fish and chips on the beach. We were so thrilled to be there, knowing that Day 6 was the day we would get to the top, but also so sad to be there because it meant the trip was almost over. (I’m tearing up now thinking about it.)
Cape York day! We left the camp ground and cruised north to the famous sign that reads ‘You are standing at the Northern most point of the Australian Continent’. It was a really special moment! We got photos altogether and then with our different groups, including a Dad’s and daughters pic which was really special. Dad and I talked about riding to the Cape together when I was a teenager and we’ve decided that it was worth the wait to get to do it with this tour company and the group of legends we did it with.
The days riding ended with a bunch of cool beaches and headlands and then the ‘finishers track’ which was super deep sand and the best way to finish our ride. We had a nice lunch at a pub right near to top of Qld with everyone and then a short flight from Bamaga to civilization (Cairns). We said our goodbyes and exchanged numbers with promises to keep in touch with out new pals, and then all sunk into a deep depression that it was over.
The ladies in this photo are all incredible! Ellyse and I are so honoured to have been a part of this trip and to do it with ladies like these!! Kim had been to the Cape previously but never ridden all on her own and she kissed the sign when we arrived! YAAAAS KIM! Chelsea is the coolest little pocket rocket from the USA and this was her second time to the Cape, and we f’n loved meeting you Chelsea! Naomi is an ex-enduro competitor and after a couple of dramas early on (you know what I’m talking about!) got her confidence back and into the swing of things nicely. Elsinor and Gemma were our two ring ins. Neither of them had ever met any of us (or each other) and jumped on a plane to Cairns and got it done. Sarah is a local Cairns gal and only booked six weeks before the trip, and reckons she lost six weeks of sleep! And the one and only Shelby who usually rides a Husky 125 wrestled the DR all the way to the top of Aus. Go Shelbs! I had the best time getting to know these girls and seeing us all achieve the goal – to touch that sign at the Northern Most Point of the Australian Continent!
BACK ROW – Caitlyn, Elsinor, Sarah, Kim.
MIDDLE ROW – Me, Ellyse, Naomi, Tanya, Chelsea.
FRONT ROW – Gemma, Shelby
Special thanks and a shout out goes to Greg McBeth. It is a huge undertaking to get that many people to the top of Australia. It is all so remote, and Greg has to plan for everything and provide everything. My hat goes off to Greg and his wonderful daughter Caitlyn, who’s idea this Almost All Ladies Trip was.
Ellyse and I had so many people ask what level of rider you need to be to come along and now we know! You need to be a decent rider, with the will and desire to get the top of Australia, surrounded by cool people and of course have a love of camping and the outdoors. It was truly an epic adventure and the best part of the entire tour was the love that sparked (wink wink) between us all and our beautiful country that is Australia.
We can’t wait to do it all again in 2020!