Jun 21 2009

Long Quiet

tim

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, if you don’t include the automated Twitter feed updates each week. Things have been a bit slower over the past few weeks, but they’re still on track.

I met with Andy a couple of weeks ago to look at some of the remaining organisation and planning, and also to try and work out trip costs. Since the group has now swelled to around 15 (at the point when there are the most of us together), we’ve chosen to work as a group as much as possible for cooking, camping and the like.

Thanks to Mandy’s research into accommodation choices, and Google’s help with a few other bits of info, we’ve been able to work out an average cost per person, per week that they’re with us (considering some will be with us for only two or three of the four weeks). It’s a bit of a sliding scale, since food and accommodation costs go up with the number of people, but fuel costs effectively go down, the more people we have. Until you need an additional vehice…. then it all changes again.

So at this point we’re looking at around $400 per person per week, which will cover food, fuel, accommodation and permits. It won’t cover personal items, alcohol, munchies or tourist activities, as those costs will vary wildly between each of us.

We’ll get together for a meeting in the next couple of weeks to finalise numbers, the dates that people are joining and leaving us, minimum (and for that matter, maximum) stuff that people will need to bring along and all that. The time and place for that will be posted here soon.

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Apr 7 2009

Permits: we have a problem

tim

I’ve made enquiries with the Northern Land Council regarding permits for access to Arnhem Land in September. According to their site there should be no issue getting the 4WDs in – around 10 days’ notice is all they need to issue the permits. Though the site doesn’t mention bikes at all, I’d heard that there might be some issue getting permits for them, and an email back from NLC last week confirmed that:

Thank you for you email but unfortunately Northern Land Council has came to an agreement with the Traditional Land Owners of East Arnhem land stating that the Land Owners don’t allow motorcycles in any area within East Arnhem that would also include the Central Arnhem Road.

It appears that permits are not required when travelling on public, gazetted roads. From what I can tell, the public road ends where the Central Arnhem Road starts – about 150km from Lake Evella. The road forks at that point, and a permit is not required for the other track, leading north to Ramingining.

So, assuming that we can’t obtain some sort of special exemption for the bikes, we still have some options. We can trailer the bikes in; we can find a place to leave the bikes, as close as possible to our destination, or we can find another route for the bikes and/or the 4WDs.

But I’m not there yet. I’ve asked our friends in Arnhem land to look into what we might be able to do; and one of the my travelling companions is making further investigations with the NLC to see what avenues we might be able to take there.

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Mar 15 2009

(Belated) Meeting Report

tim

Wow… the last two weeks have just flown by. I meant to write this up straight after the event – I don’t quite know what happened.

A bunch of prospective inmates got together the Monday before last to talk through the route and logistics of the top-end trip. It was great to meet some of the new faces – friends of friends, and one follower of the blog – and to hear input from interested parties.

There were some great ideas thown around, as well

Food, etc
One of the things I’d imagined was that, for the most part, we’d fend for ourselves on the trip. I was aware that different people would have different budgets for food and accommodation, so I figured that this would free people up to spend as they saw fit. Instead, we’ve decided that we’ll pool our resources and for the most part cook and eat together. We’ll all still contribute to making camp and cooking tea each night, but we’ll save money by buying in bulk. Fridge space will be shared and limited, so if we’re together in what we’re carrying and using, that will save space as well.

I’m not sure how all of that will work out just yet. I’m sure it will be flexible, and there will still be lunches and snacks on the road for which people will do their own thing.

Distance
We also talked a bit about the distance of the trip, and the length of some of the individual days. The suggestion was made that on some of the longer “bitumen” days – particularly on the Stuart Hwy – we might be able to trailer the bikes and share the driving, and cover much more distance in a day than we might have otherwise.

As much as the purist in me wants to ride every last kilometre, I also know the purist in me will have a sore butt by the end of day three, and will probably cave in to the idea.

The plan has a lot of merit. Even if we can’t trailer all the bikes, we can still rotate who is riding and driving, and share the load that way. We’ll still be limited by daylight hours, though; the risk of hitting wildlife is simply too great at dawn and dusk.

It was also suggested that we use this plan to shorten to overall duration of the trip, to buy us more time at the Top End, but because we’re meeting and farewelling people at key places along the way, that probably won’t be possible. What it will mean is more rest time – in the times that we’re not riding, and in the days we win back with the extra distance covered.

Capping the Numbers
Though this didn’t really come up at the meeting, it’s become apparent that we might need to cap the number of people who come on the trip. Between bikes and 4WDs we could have as many as 20 people coming already. Considering that the middle of the trip is a visit to one or more Aboriginal communities, we need to be sensitive to the impact such a large group could have.

Costs
A smaller number of us met last weekend to start estimating the costs for the participants. We have to take into account fuel for the bikes and 4WDs, food, accommodation, parks passes and permits etc. We came up with some rough numbers, but we want to refine them more, and confirm some details, before we publish anything here. Stay tuned!

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Feb 20 2009

Trip Meeting

tim

We’re having a meeting for all interested parties, to discuss the route, logistics, dates and other aspects of the Arnhem Land trip.

The meeting will be for anyone who is interested in coming along by motorbike or 4WD, for all or part of the trip, or for anyone who would like to contribute to to fund-raising for the work of our friends in the top end. If you’d like to be involved in any way at all, we’d love to see you at that night.

The meeting will be at 8:30pm, Monday 2 March. If you’d like to come, add a comment to this post, and I’ll email you the address.

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