Judith & Moon’s planned motorcycle routes from the Southern Tablelands to Lajamanu community in the NT.
This is part of the story of Judith & Moon’s attempt to cross the Tanami Desert on a DR650 Motorcycle. If you’ve arrived here for the first time, you can read an overview of our adventure here.
I sat on a motorcycle for the first time about two years ago, and got my learner’s licence six months later– so I’m not an experienced rider. Moon, my dingo X camp dog friend, started travelling with me a few months ago, so he’s not experienced either. But open borders are no longer a given in the age of covid-19, so we’re going to try to reach Lajamanu by motorcycle while we can– leaving on February 21.
What I’d like to do, ideally, is ride to Newcastle Waters, then across the open desert to Lajamanu. It’s the most beautiful Country in the world, with its clouds of wild budgerigars, its red rock formations and edgeless sky. But if I tried that with my current skill levels, I’d get Moon and myself killed. So the plan is to take the easy route to Lajamanu this first trip, via Buchanen highway to Top Springs, then down Lajamanu Rd to the community. It still involves around 1500km of corrugated sandy tracks, but at least there’ll be ample fuel and water. This is the route we’re planning for our February ride.
Assuming we manage that without having to call in the rescue helicopters, we’ll ride to Lajamanu again mid-year. This time we’ll turn onto the Tanami Track just north of Alice Springs. We’ll stop in to visit Warlpiri friends in Yuendumu and Newmont Mine, before turning right onto Lajamanu road for the remote 700km trek toward community. There’s no fuel or water between the mine and Lajamanu, a distance of around 750km, so we’ll organise fuel and water drops in advance. The Tanami Track is heavily corrugated after Yuendumu, and Lajamanu road has steep, stony descents and a whole lot of sand. This is our planned mid-year route.
Toward the end of 2021 we should’ve picked up enough off-road skills to do the ride we’d hoped for. That is, if the zombie apocalypse hasn’t come and the borders are still open. From Newcastle Waters there’s the remnant of an old kangaroo track leading out into the remote Tanami Desert. There’s a line of mountains visible, the rain-dreaming songline crosses the desert here along the path of those mountains. At the other end is Lajamanu community. There’s no fuel, no water, no roads, just the magnificent Tanami desert with its spinifex and birds, its myriad of colours at dusk, its sacred mountains. This is the route we’ve planned for the end of the year.
These three routes may not seem very different, but they are. If I can get Moon and I across the Tanami, then I’ll feel confident taking the old Warlpiri ladies out to their sacred sites, one by one, on the back of the bike. It will change everything for us.