Henley and Hog Heaven

                           1800 Harleys lead the parade for the start of Henley on Todd
We are now in Alice Springs and so are 1800 Harley Davidson motorcyclists on a rally here for the big Henley on Todd mock of the Cup Races on the dry Todd River.  It was an amazing event made that much more awesome with the hundreds of rumbling motorcycles riding in pairs right down the middle of the Todd Street Mall stretching clear to the Todd River, in a grand opening parade.    



 Camped out at the McDonnell Caravan Park with most of the bikers has been entertaining and extraordinary.  Today we had a big pancake breakfast put on by the park for FREE!  They have cooked up to 900 pancakes on a huge travel trailer griddle every Sunday for the past 7 years, just one of the ways the people of outback Australia exhibit their hospitality.




Showing their more innovative qualities is Henley on Todd, a rowing and sailing regatta 1500km from the nearest large body of water.  Thousands of spectators lined the river banks of this small outback town to watch what looked like normal sane people racing in bath tubs, homemade sailing yachts and 8 man racing teams carrying their crafts and by foot power alone beating their way down the dry river bed.  Other events included paddling kayaks with sand shovels down a rail track, filling empty 44 gallon drums with sand to men and women's Anchor the Boat contests, a tug of war between locals and bikers.

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Foot powered yachts and tub 4 dinghy's racing flat out to the half way buoy

Vikings roaming along the river bank manned with soaker guns and Scotts hanging out

The grand finale was a spectacle never to be forgotten!  Three huge ships propelled by 4 wheel drive vehicles hidden beneath super structured battle boats, the 'Viking', the 'Defender' and the 'Nauteus'.  They were crewed by nautical ratbags in a motley assortment of Vikings, Pirates and Naval cadets.  Charging into the arena churning up the sand and letting go with the ferocity of battle and swashbuckling action, the battle began with flour bombs, water balloons and fire hoses drenching everyone and every thing into white sandy dumplings.  This is how the intelligent adult Aussie has reverted to their childhood ways for just one day a year for the past 44 years.  Six hours later we left the event soaking wet from the huge soaker guns manned by the vicious Vikings roaming the crowded river banks. Fortunately we were accompanied by the Hell's Angle looking 'Bikies' who also took it all in stride and joined in.  It was a day we will never forget! 
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I have been doing my civic duty on a mission to save the Pitchi Richi Sanctuary here in the Alice.  These are the works of a white man, William Ricketts who lived with the aborigines and carved sculptures in rock depicting their legends. These masterpieces are now going back to the earth from neglect and hidden behind closed gates.  I have shown a photo, which hangs above my fireplace mantle, that I took of the Moon Man in the park 31 years ago to compare the loss. Wheels have been put in motion and hopefully these works of art will not be lost forever.


   Also with a little research in the library Gayla was able to find the newspaper article of the air rescue mission she was involved with back in 1974 recalling the dates that the plane went down and lost in the Simpson desert. The historian of the air history museum at the Cultural center was very appreciative of the photo copy we made for their records.

   It has been a very successful Outback experience so far and we are now just leaving for the more indigenous areas of Ularu the huge sacred monolith in the Red Center.


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