PHOTO ABOVE: Boys on postie bikes: Bryan Kenny, Wayne Burkhardt (front), Peter Lyndhout, Scott Wheeler, Matthew Schult and Ben Streich.
“Good God. The posties have arrived,” said Tony as we perched on the edge of Punsand Bay, the most northerly beach camp in Australia.
Two camp sites away, some young men were lifting themselves gingerly off bright red TT 110 Honda bikes, the kind the posties use, fitted with XR fuel tanks.
A few months earlier, six blokes aged somewhere between early 20s and 30s had been having a few beers in Cairns. Someone said it would be a challenge to do a trip to the Tip on bikes. Someone else suggested red postie bikes.
Three weeks later the six of them had all bought their bikes. A few months later they arrived at the Punsand Bay campground after five days of riding through billowing red dust and over millions of corrugations.
Over the corrugations wasn’t too bad at a speed around 70kmh. The problem was when the corrugations widened and deepened so the bikes thumped in and out.
“You had to hang on,” said Wayne Burkhardt, a diesel fitter. “And stand up a fair bit.”
How did they feel when they finally made it? Relieved, said Wayne. Thirsty, said Bryan Kenny, who claimed to be a male model and sometimes boilermaker.
Thirsty too were the little Hondas on their journey north. They had gulped down remarkable quantities of oil as they spluttered their way to the Tip.
Making up the postie bikes team were electricians Matthew Schulz and Peter Lyndhout, plasterer Scott Wheeler and diesel fitter Ben Streich. All shared a common interest in trail bike riding for years. The boys had five bikes with them, four on the road on each stretch and one in the back-up ute with the other two members of the party.
Goggled and muffled with bandannas to keep choking dust from passing vehicles out of facial orifices, they came up the bypass roads and planned to return through the creek crossings on the Old Telegraph Track.
Scott reckoned they had come through more than a thousand kilometers relatively unscathed, with one burnt-out motor and two burnt legs.
Had they ever felt like turning back? On day one, apparently. Said Bryan: “We had told too many people what we were going to do to turn back.”
They tossed their swags under a big tarp and reached for coldies, ready to relax for a couple of days before heading back. The return journey would be a little easier, they thought. They wouldn’t be on such a tight schedule.
How long were they going to take all up? “Two weeks - ish,” said Bryan.
What did it take to do what they had just done? Stupidity, came the answer from six quarters.
Some people did this sort of thing for a reason, mused Bryan. They did it because they had a few beers.
All agreed being bike enthusiasts had been an essential ingredient. What else?
“Be prepared. Read up on it,” said Wayne.
Said Peter slowly and emphatically: “Lock. Tight. Every. Bolt.”
The boys’ high spirits grave testimony to Bryan’s opinion: “Don’t just talk about it. Do it. It’s been the best time I have had so far.”
It was also tiring, if the synchronized snoring coming from the swags that night was any indication.