Posties storm across Simpson
Today is "Desert Storm" day for Australian posties as they watch their beloved Hondas take the ultimate test.
That's because 35 men will climb aboard the distinctive red Honda CT110s outside the Birdsville Pub, and attempt to cross the Simpson Desert.
Dubbed "Desert Storming Posties", it's designed to raise $60,000 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
"They've got 500km and 1190 sand dunes to cross," said local Ruth Doyle, who runs the Birdsville Caravan Park and will see them off this morning. They'll be needing a big breakfast."
The retired Honda postie bikes are allowed to carry extra fuel but have few other modifications apart from a few "knobby" tyres.
Organiser Phil Hodgens agrees locals think the team is mad. But the group of farmers, accountants and even a doctor are determined to reach Alice Springs by early Saturday morning, even if they have to get off and push.
Every entrant has been conducting his own fundraising with one entrant, Scott Whiddet, a Sydney accountant, raising $18,000 alone.
Eight support vehicles accompany the riders but no one is allowed to access them for food or water.
"If they do, they will be fined," Mr Hodgens said. "We want everyone to be self-sufficient."
The Simpson Desert's sand dunes have defeated many well-equipped four-wheel-drives. But Mr Hodgens has faith in the little red Honda four-stroke which always gets the mail through – rain, hail or shine.
"They have got, on average, around 30,000km on the clock so they're no spring chickens," he said. "But we reckon the Hondas have a lot of heart."
Mr Hodgens' ambitious scheme is to help repay a debt. A couple of years ago he had a crash on the Gunbarrel Highway in Western Australia and was flown to Perth by the Flying Doctor.
"The whole time I was worrying how much is this going to cost. But they're a free service and something that we should all support."