After visiting this area back in Nov last year, a group of us decided to head back up for some more exploring around Burra, via Taylor's Run and the Tothill Rnages. In particular, the plan being to locate the eastern entrance to Caroona Creek Cons Park, and ride through to the western end, and up to the school house for the night - well, that was the plan
NB: Once done, links to video footage of the trip will be posted here when ready.
We met up at HJ's at Darlington: Alan (R800GS), Grant (V-Strom 650) & me (R1200GSA). We then head off to meet Nick (MG Stelvio 1200) at Gawler.
Before long, we had turned onto Taylor's Run, and stopped to grab a drink (it was warming up already), and drop the tyres down.
Once past Marrabel, we headed up the Tothill Ranges, taking a nice little side track off to the east, which brought us up to a rise with great views, and a chance to catch up on the cricket score
Fortunately, digital radio reception was pretty good out here still!
In good time, and with Grant getting low on petrol, we made into Burra for lunch, and fuelled up if needed.
After Burra, we headed east towards Redbanks (thanks to Masterbrewer's advice) and found the turn-off to Caroona Creek's eastern entrance - a 28km ride north on a reasonable dirt road with an occasional dry river bed crossing.
A typical stretch of road up to Caroona.
About 7kms up the road, we passed a turn-off to the left, which headed north-west, around to the western side of the range. A little further on, I got a message from Nick through the intercom (Chatterbox) that Alan was hearing some noises, so we pulled over and investigated. Nothing some chain tightening didn't sort out.
Not Alan's better angle!
So we continued on in the heat and dust towards Caroona, passing the Caroona homestead on our right, eventually coming to a sign directing us to the park entrance towards our left. So up we turned and arrived at the park entrance, only to find:
So we headed back south about 23km to Mongolata Road turn-off, which would take us directly up to Mt. Bryan East, and the old school house. We very quickly found this road to be far less used, more weather beaten, and 7 gates for the first 10kms.
Queuing up again for a gate.
A very typical stretch of erosion/floodway around here - of which we were soon to see many!
Shortly into the first 10kms of this road, we started the (dry) river bed crossings, which just kept coming, one after another.
The more challenging of the crossings usually had a few things in common - lots of thick river sand, and dirt or sandy jump-ups at the base of the climb out. A couple had sizeable erosion cracks on either of the banks that would swallow a front wheel if given the chance, but were able to be avoided.
The soft, sandy climb out of one crossing took 3 victims without injury, with Alan getting through on his F800GS with relative ease (more due to experience that the bike). Footage below of Nick being taken out -
As the afternoon rolled on, we finally made it to the old school house around 6:30pm, spent and hungry. So Grant offered to stay back and watch the gear whilst the 3 of us went into Burra to grab some drinks and dinner.
My Enduristan Monsoon panniers came into good use as our mobile eskies.
With full stomachs, 2 bags of ice (1 in each pannier) and a full load of beer, and a meal for Grant, we headed off for camp, eyes peeled for roos, especially as it was right on dusk.
The evening started out very windy, then backed off and cooled down, so a small fire took care of that, as we recounted the days challenges. Apart from some local lads doing some spotlighting down the road, it was a peaceful night for camping under the stars.
Our plan for the next day was to head up to Pandappa CP, however, Nick awoke in the morning to find;
We used my mini electric pump to get some air into it, but had no luck at locating the leak.
In the mean time, we got a visit from Aurthur, who owns the property backing onto the school house, arriving on his little ag bike. He has taken it upon himself to keep an eye on the place, and apparently, is the one who keeps the fire wood stockpile up. He even offered to take care of our rubbish for us - which we greatly appreciated.
Arthur showing interest in the F800 - he loves his bikes!
Some of the camp set-ups;
After a lazy start to the morning, we farewelled Arthur, and decided to head to the Mt. Bryan lookout, which we later found out wasn't accessible (locked gates). It doesn't seem to readily accessible any more. So we made our way back to Burra, to grab lunch, where Alan and Grant bid farewell as they had to be back in Adelaide sooner that Nick and I.
Grant and Alan gearing up.
Nick and I decided to make our way down the eastern side of the Tothill Ranges to Tarnma, then west to Marrabel, and then back down Taylor's Run to Kapunda. Some of the pics below;
This wall reminded me of the one in the Shawshank Redemption where he left the tin hiding for his made when he finally got released.
Ruins at beginning of Taylors Run (southern end);
And there you have it. My first RR out the way. Once I get some video organised (we had 2 ContourHD's filming off/on) - I'll post it up.
If you want GPX tracks, let me know - have them too.