Their so-called “Turn Left Day” came and went and nothing changed. With the promise of fewer hills, shorter days, and more rest came longer days and no days off. Sure the roads were flat, but this pair were incessantly seeking out anything that might be a mountain, hill or road with an incline, just so they could sit and marvel at a view of the sun going down (which I might add, it does every bloody day).
An example of this crazy “Let’s go see the sunset” phase of the trip happened as soon as we turned left.
M began by banging on about the ‘big’ horizon, with N encouraging the whole idea by looking through a mountain of glossy tourist brochures that were stuffed carelessly into my once tidy glove compartment.
We’d left Charter Towers earlier in the day and, after about 3 hours of a lovely cruisey flat drive, we arrived in the sleepy very horizontal town of Hughenden. I had only just begun to cool my tappets when they clambered in with a shout of “Quick! It’s going down!” M cranked the engine, butterfly valve opened, fuel was sucked in, air inhaled, number 1 tappets popped up, and then down, spark plugs sparked – and I exploded into action. “We’ve got twenty minutes, come on!”
I found out during the rushed trip to the only mountain within kooee of Hughenden that N had been talking to some guy swanning around in a two-year-old Japanese number and he’d been up some climb by the name of Walkers Hill. “Best sunset he ever saw” N told M.
They raced along the flat straight road toward a small pimple on the horizon. The air was cooler than the coast and I was ticking along nicely, air and fuel mixture combining, exploding and releasing, I ticked along tick, tick, tick. And then… out of nowhere the flat turned into a wall! Crunching down through my gears, third then second then coming to an almost standstill before crunching into first. Ugh. My revs went through the head gasket or at least that’s what it felt like. I roared as my tappets pounded their seats hard, carburators sucked in more fuel, the revs dropped a little and I settled into a steady climb. Tick, tick, tick. It was only about 400m in length but 100m of vertical gain!
I must admit it was pretty satisfying sitting up there on top of the world. M parked me so I could share the sunset, lifted my engine cover and I clicked as I cooled away, the evening breeze caressing my bits and pieces, cooling down my tappets and oil. Long after the sun disappeared beneath the horizon, they climbed back in full of chatter, not of the sunset, but of how pleased they were with me climbing that hill, how full of confidence they were with me getting them across Australia all the way from the east coast to the west.
We sailed down the hill and ticked our way back to camp – I must admit I was feeling pretty confident myself.