"G'day Macka" Australia All Over

Trip Start Oct 20, 2009
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Trip End Jun 23, 2010


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Where I stayed
Stratford Motel

Flag of Canada  , Yukon,
Saturday, May 15, 2010

15.05.2010

I wrote a poem in the guest book at Air Force Lodge before we put our boots on for the last time at this perfectly neat little Lodge. It was a beautiful sunny day, and it felt good to hop on the motorbike to head towards the capital of the State of Yukon, Whitehorse. We just had one more thing to do in Watson Lake and that was to check out the Sign Post Forest. This was an amazing display of road signs from all over the world. Lou said there must be a lot of kleptomaniacs in the world, because those signs had to come from somewhere. It turned out that not all the signs were road signs. Many people had made their own signs out of breadboards, plates, eski lids, tea shirts, caps, virtually anything one could write on.

"In 1942, during the construction of the Alaska Highway, the US Army Corps of engineers, erected mileage posts at their camps that listed places, distances and directions in the Yukon, other Canadian cities and cities within the USA, and also other parts of the world. One of these posts was erected at the Wye the corner of the Alaska Highway and the road to the Watson Lake Airport, where the Sign Post Forest stands today.

Carl Lyndley, a homesick soldier added his hometown sign to the army signpost, and started a time honoured tradition. People from all over the world continue to add their hometown signs to the Sign Post Forest during the spring, summer and fall.

The Sign Post Forest has been protected and nurtured over the years by ordinary citizens of what became Watson Lake, The Lions Club, Hippie Club and finally the Town of Watson Lake. The Sign Post Forest is one of the best known attractions along the 2,414 kilometer Highway from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Fairbanks, Alaska." (Information from visitor center, Watson Lake)

We watched an 18 minute movie at the Sign Post Forest, about the Yukon State the Klondike gold rush and also the building of the Alaska Highway which was built in 8 months during the Second World War by the military services and civilians.

As at 2009 there were 67,983 signs in total in the sign village. Last year the village recorded 25,846 visitors who signed the visitor book. The village is not locked, so anyone can walk around anytime day or night, and need not sign the visitor book, so the number of visitors could very well be double. It was amazing to read the signs, many had messages on them, some just names of people or places. We had to tear ourselves away as we had a long ride ahead of us.

Not long into the ride, we saw a big brown bear at the side of the road. A car load of people had stopped to photograph it, from the safety of the car. We quite often see vehicles stopped on the highway, anywhere, on double yellow lines, on bends, up steep inclines, with the occupants photographing the wild animals. It must be as much of a thrill for them to see the animals as it is for us. I now know why tourists get excited about seeing a kangaroo or emu in the wild in Australia.

We decided to make our coffee break at 11 into lunch as well, as we had a few kilometers to kill before we got to Whitehorse. We had already dallied at The Sign Post Forest longer than we had intended because it was so fascinating.  At Teslin we stopped to photograph the long iron based bridge, which was tricky to ride on because the iron lines in the bridge keep wanting to draw our tyres into them, a bit like riding along a rail road track. So, we have to hold the handle bar with kid gloves to allow it to move around a little within the lines of the bridge. We stood up on our foot pegs to raise our centre of balance and allow the bike a little freedom to fishtail about. After Des and I had crossed, I waited at the bridge for Lou and Lynn to cross, while I photographed them. I couldn't encourage Lynn to wave, as she was busy concentrating.    

As the day grew colder, we pulled into the office of the Mountain Ridge Motel in Whitehorse where the lovely young lass, Jessica helped me get a phone card and use the phone to ring Macka on the ABC radio programme, Australia All Over. As I had just jumped off the bike, after a 450 kilometer ride, with few stops, and the wind chill factor being high, I was a little jelly legged and headachy. After five or six tries I was connected with Macka’s very friendly receptionist, Lee Kelly (Kel), who chatted with me while until Macka was free to talk. The most important thing I wanted to get across was that it was my Rotary Club’s (Rotary Club of Marion) 40th Birthday yesterday. I hope it came through OK, so the club could be recognized publically for the 40 years of continuous service the Rotary Club of Marion has given to the community.
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Comments

shirleyg
shirleyg on

I love seeing our kangas and emus but to see bears ... WOW! x

Penny Anderson on

Hi Jenny,
Just wanted to add that I heard you on Macka on Sunday...very clear. You inspired me to get your web-address from ABC and now am loving following your journey. How cool!

Miguel Olmedo on

What a wonderful part of your trip! You inspire everyone.

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