Day 18 – Rest Day Derby
Posted on August 24, 2015 1 Comment
I have been in touch with Dad again tonight and he is having troubles with his Optus coverage for his surface pro, so I have not received his next blog for you all. I may need to talk to him about deadlines! Ha ha.
He has spent the day resting, eating and hoping to recover ready for his final stage into Broome. He has lost a lot of weight and is using these 2 rest days to refuel and restock, ready to leave on Wednesday morning.
I will be in touch with him again tomorrow, and I should have a photo for you all of the old man. I will get him to fill me in more on his Gibb River Rd experience and I will update you all again tomorrow night. Hopefully, in the meantime, his IT skills may come in handy and the problem may be fixed.
His Granddaughter Maddie is doing a talk on “Pa Pa” tomorrow at show & tell. She sent him a video of her presentation and he has asked me to share the photos with you all. She is a little proud of her Pa Pa.
Day 17 – Arrived in Derby
Posted on August 23, 2015 1 Comment
I have just heard from Dad tonight. He did exactly as we thought and soldiered on – as Dad always does. He not only made up the half day he had lost on the horrendous dirt road but he has arrived in Derby a day earlier then expected.
It would be fitting to say that he is absolutely exhausted, but he is so happy to have made it to Derby and he is going to have 2 well deserved rest days. Then it will be back in the saddle for 2 more days and he will reach the finish line where Mum and Emily are eagerly awaiting his arrival.
I have missed talking to him the last few days and it was just fantastic to hear from him. I am sure he is often in all of our thoughts wondering how the crazy old man is going. I must admit we have been logging onto SPOT way too often to make sure that he was still checking in and hoping that he was doing okay. HUGE sigh of relief that he has made it to Derby.
I am sure you are all eagerly awaiting an update from him about his travels through the dreadful dirt track, he is going to update us all over the next few days. Right now he is going to get some rest (in between leg and hand cramps).
I will leave this update with a little something for Dad (who I am sure will be checking on my quality of work while he has been out of service). I am so proud and inspired by all the things that you have achieved and that you are sharing your story and this Great Outback Adventure with us all. You come home to us safely, with your head held high and remember all the things we all love about you…
More photos for you all below.
Day 15 – Mt Barnett Roadhouse to Silent Grove
Posted on August 21, 2015 1 Comment
So I had a missed call last night from a private number….. And I thought to myself… if it is important they will ring back! And he did!! Dad rang from a pay phone from Mt Barnett Roadhouse where he is staying for the night. He sounds really tired, which is expected, with the hard work needed in the saddle for this stage of the ride. Gosh it was good to hear his voice…
Although really tired, he sounded really good. He feels really good within himself and he is determined to get through the next 300 odd km to Derby and put the dirt road behind him. As of last night he was half a day behind, not to worry though he will make it up over the next week for his arrival in Broome. It turned out really well as he was able to book into a cabin there last night and have a decent feed and shower.
I have followed him on SPOT today and he has been checking in regularly. It looks like he is making great progress considering he rode the King Leopold ranges (which looks like hills on the map to me) today.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported Dad throughout this journey and also thank all those who have donated to Bravehearts. I have been working with Kayleen and Jason from Bravehearts to help share Dad’s story and his heartfelt adventure, and what a fantastic organisation. We have also had a great response from local businesses in the Camden area that are also supporting this worthy cause. If you wish to make a donation please click on the “Ken McIlwain supporting Bravehearts White Balloon Day” link below.
Ken McIlwain supporting Bravehearts White Balloon Day
I have attached some more photos from his journey, so please enjoy.
I will keep you updated
Day 13 – Ellenbrae to Gibb River Kreuzung TO
Posted on August 19, 2015 2 Comments
I spoke to Dad late last night, he rang from Ellenbrae Station phone, I guess my “check-up” phone call efforts paid off. He is finding the dirt of Gibb River Road challenging. He is averaging 10km/hour in the saddle, which for all you other crazy riders out there reading will know; it means it must be tough going.
In saying this, in true Kenny Mac Fashion, he is still doing really well and I have followed him today on SPOT and he seems to have done quite well today.
I am not expecting to hear from him the next few days, but I will continue my online stalk. I have put some more photos up of his journey, so let’s all send him some positive energy.
And as Dad always told Ang and I when we rode with him, “Just keep doing those circles”!!
Day 11 – Home Valley Station to Ellenbrae Station
Posted on August 17, 2015 6 Comments
A little Kenny Mac update for you all. I have not heard from Dad the last 2 days so I am going to assume that he has had no reception. Must admit I may be having some withdrawal symptoms, as we have been talking so often to the lead up to the ride and during the first stages we have chatted lots.
We have been following his journey on SPOT and it looks like he has been making good progress. We had expected him to get to Ellenbrae Station tonight but he has checked in to what looks like 30km from that point. Not that I am stalking him but I may have spoken to Larissa, from Ellenbrae Station, and he has not yet arrived, but word is “a lady named Karen has seen him on the road and said that he was going great.”
He had planned on a rest day tomorrow at Ellenbrae so I dare say he will ride the 30 odd kms tomorrow, then enjoy the his rest day. In saying this, we all know Kenny Mac, so anything is possible and he may be still riding there now!!
Well until I can do some more stalking or I have any more details I have put some of the great pics that he has taken over the last few days.
I will keep you updated.
Day 9 – Kununurra Rest Day
Posted on August 15, 2015 12 Comments
I made it to Kununurra early on Friday. I gained an hour and half when I crossed the WA border which makes me two hours behind you guys on the East Coast.
I thought you all might like to hear how my last few days have gone on the road;
Day 5 (Tuesday)
I had planned to camp just past the Buntine Highway turn off near the creek, but had some major change of plans when I found the entire area was covered with cattle, 100’s of them. Plan B, keep going until I find a spot hopefully shady. Absolutely no luck the road is graded back about 30 metres both sides and covered in high grass or black soot where it had been burnt out. I remembered seeing a sign some way back, ‘Next Rest Area 75 kms’, quick calculation, that’ll be about 20kms from Victoria River Roadhouse (in my head – maybe I could make it all the way – 195 kms).
The temperature was at 40C and with about 150km clocked up on the speedo (my Garmin 810) I got my first flat tyre (trailer wheel). Found a cattle yard gate off the highway, parked the bike, unloaded all the trailer gear, fixed the tyre and back on the road. Love my little green giggle hat, nice and shady.
I hit mountain range and knew I couldn’t get to Victoria River without some damage to my muscles. Plan C, I stopped at one of the sites – Judbarra / Gregory National Park, 175kms all up today.
It had a billabong with what seemed like ice cold water and I sat in it, my legs loving the cold water. I sat there in the very shallow water with a rather large stick in hand. There was a sign saying that swimming is not recommended. Walking back to my campsite I noticed two young guys’ playing cards and drinking beer and water. I asked if I could buy a beer off them. They didn’t understand as they only spoke a small amount of English. So I pointed to the beer, put 1 finger in the air, put $10 on the table and smiled and hence my first alcoholic drink for the trip. I had a cold dinner (which was very good) with the cool beer. I cleaned up, did my teeth and was in bed by 6:30.
Lying in my tent (it only takes three minutes to put up) thinking about tomorrow morning, I only had 20kms to ride to reach the roadhouse and I dreamed of having a huge breakfast. I look back at the day, it was a testing day for me both mentally and physically. So as they say, one step at a time, do circles (Angela even I do it), and not being afraid to have the old, ‘change of plans’.
Day 6 (Wednesday)
I was quite excited packing up my tent and all the gear as I was on my way to having a drink of cold water. Funny how when you drink warm water the mind tells you should be bathing in it not drinking it. Knowing I had completed that extra 50 kms yesterday, my schedule of 160 is now 110. I spent an hour having breakfast at the Roadhouse and it was just fabulous. Breakfast was followed by a quick wash, I cleaned my teeth and then back to the road I went. A Man filling up his Caravan said he saw two riders coming the same way yesterday.
Not expecting to see any other ‘Crazies’ like me on the road, low and behold, what I first thought was a caravan stopped with a problem (you really don’t often see them pulled off on the side of the road) was actually a support vehicle for some walkers. I met Chris (F), Ian and Dennis who are all walking for prostate cancer. Ian was driving, his wife Chris was walking and they were both from Stanthorpe (QLD) and Dennis (Warwick) who I met walking about 10 kms further up the road. There were originally 5 in the team but two got sick so now just the three. They have two vehicles. Yeah, I thought the same (2 vehicles for 3 people??) but what they do is this, Ian drops Chris off and she starts walking, he drives ahead 10kms and parks, Dennis goes ahead in the other vehicle a further 10kms parks, locks it and walks back to meet them all at Ian’s spot. They do 30 to 40 km a day then drive to the next rest stop.
As they drove past me later that afternoon Ian slowed right down to my speed (21km/hr) and passed me a bottle of cold water, I just thought what wonderful people. The temperature was 42C and all my water was so hot to drink. I was really looking forward to getting to Timber Creek Caravan Park. Low and behold I got to see the crazy walkers again at the caravan park when I arrived.
It was two tough days in the saddle, 282 kms done with 232 kms to get to Kununurra. I knew there were no stops for water over the next few days. I can’t rely on the rest stop tanks having water available as the last two that I came across were empty. Knowing this I bought an extra 6 litres of water plus 4 PowerAde for the next stage of the ride. OMG water was dearer than fuel.
I did my washing and I am so grateful that I bought my little money bag full of $1 coins. I had a burger, cold drink, washed up and went to bed. Due to the gruelling heat in the middle and late afternoon I intended to leave at 5:30am the next morning to ride in the dark and cool for a few hours.
Day 7 (Thursday)
At this stage I still hadn’t come across the two riders that are reported to be behind me but I thought that I may come across them today because I had decided that I would just ride to the Saddle Creek rest stop. It was a pretty uneventful day to a normal person (normal- that’s a whole discussion there). I was told by a woman at the Timber Creek Crocodile shop to pop into the Bulla Community Store and get a cold drink, say hello, as they don’t see many travellers. It was only 1km off the highway. So I did just that, I rode in, I couldn’t find the Community Store, I asked three people and they all pointed me in different directions. Not being able to find it at all I went back out to the highway and stopped further up at the Baines rest stop.
There was young couple at the rest stop and the guy came over with an ice cold can of Pepsi for me. Mark, Lynn and there little dog Muppet chatted to me for ages. They were waiting there today for their friends who were running a day behind because of the Bali ash issue. I ate some morning tea and just as I was about to leave Mark gave me another can of Pepsi. He said, “It’ll still be cold in an hour or so, enjoy.”
The tailwind today was fabulous I was averaging 21.4 km/hr and reached the 100km spot by 11:30 NT time which left me only about an hour and a half to the camp site. It ended up taking me a little longer as there was a sharp climb before I reached the camp.
I rode into the rest area and parked my bike up against one on the concrete tables and chairs. There was a woman, her name is Toni, sitting in a canvas chair with feet up on a leg stool. Not a rider, she has been on the rode in her little Honda Getz for eight months free camping where she could. We chat like old friends for ages, drinking coffee and eating scones with Rhubarb jam and cream (Toni had been to the Zebra Mine not far back and bought them there).
Something made me look up and it was the two riders, they had been riding all day over the same 120kms as I did. It was about 4:30 and they looked hot, but very fit. Maximus and Kristina both laughed softly, as they have also heard about the rider up ahead who rides in the dark hours of the morning. We finally met.
There was water in the tanks here but only for washing. It was a dry dusty spot, really just like all of the rest stops. So many vehicles drive in and out. Toni and I continued our conversation, mostly about her journey so far, as mine was only up to day seven. We had dinner, funny, mine being a cold Happy Camper meatballs and hers was soup and noodles. I packed my gear for another early start just about to go to bed when two cars pulled into the rest site. One driver in each car. They backed into a spare spot and hopped out. A young Japanese couple (why two cars- no way was I going to ask) they started pulling out camping gear from the car (back seat and boot) mostly still in boxes……..and then I noticed they had a generator. OMG it loudly ran until about 9pm! I just blanked it out and watched the stars above through my tent, thinking about my ride over the WA border.
See… what an uneventful day. Ha
Day 8 (Friday)
I’m sitting here in my room at Kununurra, it’s my rest day and I will tell you about getting here.
Back to the morning of the 8th day. I woke several times in the night, being well hydrated I go to the loo often, good sign really. I finally got up at 4:30 and drank my special morning drinks, packed all my gear trying not wake all the campers. There was a final total of 13 caravans and such at the site. I had a stretch, OMG, the stars here in the outback just have to be seen to be believed.
I was ready to leave at 5:30 when Toni woke from her car, she said she likes to head off at daybreak. She has a great set-up in her car, everything stays in her car with the exception of her large water bottles. She puts those on the ground. This is for her safety because if she gets in a situation that’s not good she can leave quick smart with all her gear, smart idea! Off I went heading for the WA border.
The border was just that, a border, checking all bags going into WA. There was a Greyhound tour bus with everyone out taking photos. I gave one of the ladies my phone and hey presto – a photo of me at the border gates. One of the guys wanted to know if the solar charger was for my esky fridge. I didn’t laugh at the guy, I politely told him it was for my cameras and travel recorder (Garmin).
I made it to town. You know, I was actually ready for a rest and recovery day. That was 514 kms done with a total calorie burn of 17,293. Food and cold drinks here I come, and oodles of it.
What does one do on a day off? Today I’ve had to put a new thorn proof tube in the trailer wheel, build two extra water bottle holders on the front forks, put on the chunky knobbly tyre on the rear of the bike also with a thorn proof tube, check all the nuts and bolts and lube the chain. After that buy more water and odd supplies and repack the gear differently. I am now ready for the 770 kms of dirt roads.
I won’t be able to post any blogs on the Gibb River Road. If I get reception I will give Alanna a call, I’m sure she will keep you all up to date on my journey.
Hey Guys……Big Thanks for all your support.
Chat to you all next Monday week from Derby.
Day 6 – Arriving in Timber Creek
Posted on August 12, 2015 2 Comments
I have heard from Dad tonight. He has made it safely to Timber Creek and is “exhausted”. He ended up riding 175 km (instead of 125) on day 5, he continued on riding until he found a safe place on the side of the road to stay for the night. Today (day 6) he rode the final 111 km to Timber Creek where he is enjoying his soft bed!
He heads of Tomorrow (day 7) and heads to Saddle Creek (130 km) then on day 8 he will do the trek from Saddle Creek to Kununurra (126 km) where he will have a rest Day. He will be in touch and fill us in on his travels on his rest day.
Meantime I have put some more photos that he has sent through so far below.
Day 5 – Katherine to Buntine Hwy Turn Off
Posted on August 11, 2015 Leave a Comment
A Ken (Dad, Pa Pa) update for you all. We expected that during this stage of the ride Dad may not have any Telstra coverage (his phone) or Optus coverage (his Surface Pro) and therefore unable to contact us.
Before Dad left he organised a SPOT account which has allowed us to login and see where he has checked in. As you can see in the photo above he checked in twice today on his 125 km journey from Katherine to Buntine Highway turnoff. It is at point number 7 that he had planned to camp out for the night. We will continue to log onto SPOT over the next few days to watch his progress.
In other Amazing Kenny Mac News –
There has been a change to the link for Dad’s fundraising page with Bravehearts (The new link below). He is now playing a part in their fundraising for the Bravehearts White Balloon Day as part of child protection week. Braveheart’s are sharing his story (starting tomorrow) and following his journey with coverage on their digital channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
So hop onto to Braveheart’s Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram to see more of our amazing Kenny Mac.
I am officially excited…..
Sponsor Kenny Mac and support Bravehearts White Balloon Day.
Day 4 – Rest Day
Posted on August 10, 2015 2 Comments
I am certainly enjoying my rest day here in Katherine. I did some shopping at a local grocery store, I bought bananas, a few apples and Gatorade for the next stage of the ride. The temperature has been reaching 38-39 degrees by 3 in the afternoon and stays that way for a couple of hours. I came off in the gravel yesterday, because the front wheel has no weight (all the weight is in the trailer and panniers) it loses traction sometimes. Only a few scratches and the bike is okay. So today I made my own water carrying holder for the front. I’ll find out if it works tomorrow.
It’s funny you know, while I was at the camping shop this morning I ran into my 7th ‘crazy’ person. His tent had ripped and he was buying a new one. He is towards the end of his journey riding from Adelaide to Darwin. It has been refreshing meeting other people out on their adventure knowing that I am not the only one out there on the roads.
I’ll be starting what I call the Kenny Mac’s Big 4 in the morning, 541 kms in 4 days to Kununurra. No more 5 star caravan parks, it’s now camping out under the stars, practicing for the dirt section of Gibbs River Road. I was told there is a great camping place at Timber Creek 290 km (have emailed but no reply) and a roadhouse about 195 kms away (cold drinks will be nice).
Bye for now.
Day 2 – Adelaide River to Pine Creek
Posted on August 8, 2015 6 Comments
It’s Alanna (Kenny Mac’s eldest daughter). Dad rode the 113 km from Adelaide River to Pine Creek today. I spoke with him this evening and quoting him “He is shattered!! It was a long day physically and mentally”. My first impulse is to reply with “Well what do you expect you crazy old man!!!” so I said just that. Followed by “You can do it, and I am so proud of you!”
Dad is calling today the HH day – Hills and Headwind. He has ditched the tent site and has got a room in the Pine Creek Hotel for the night. With a decent feed on board he is going to get some well-deserved sleep.
Tomorrow he is riding from Pine Creek to Katherine (94 km) where he will have his first full rest day. He will be able to do a post from Katherine and fill us all in on his Journey.
I have put some more of the photos he has taken so far below so you should definitely check them all out. And on the subject of Crazy Old Man I am delighted to let you all know that he has met some other Crazy Adventurers out on the Road. (Pictures Below) The two guys are riding to Brisbane and the guy with the trolley-looking contraption is walking solo to Adelaide, he has been walking for 1 year 3 months 20 days 9 hours and 5 minutes so far. What can you say……. I will start with CRAZY then settle for INSPIRATIONAL.
Love you Kenny Mac