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Old 09-14-2010, 10:22 PM   #1
Eaglebeak OP
Aussie BM rider, West Oz.
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Joined: Jun 2005
Location: Perth.
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Across Australia (and return) by outfit

This trip was to have been done in the company of Mrs Beak on her Suzuki GS500 and the 10 y.o. eaglet in my outfit, but with Mrs Beak changing jobs, leave was hard to come by so I left on my own.

The plan.
From Perth, on the west coast of Oz, to the West Australian/South Australian border for the annual "Border Run" and then on to the north of NSW for the "Off Centre Rally" this time to be held in the little outback town of Wanaaring.
Along the way I'd be meeting two fellow Adv'ers, also on outfits, visiting friends in Melbourne, Victoria and also stopping off with other friends in Robe, in the south of South Australia.

I left Perth mid morning early August on Thursday before Saturdays Border Run. In front of me, 300 kms of tar to the little town of Hyden, on the far eastern edge of the West Austalian wheatbelt.

Just as I was leaving the fabulous Bakery in Hyden I ran into 5 riders I knew, also on their way to the border and OCR.
After a brief chat we arranged to camp together down the dirt from Hyden to Norseman.
This road is ~300kms and is usually in fantastic condition, maintained in part by a couple of local mines that use it for access.
It doesn't save a great deal off the regular highway but makes up for it in a lot less traffic and great bush scenery.

I arrived at The Breakaways, our campsite for the night.

Entry road

The Breakaways is a great campsite protected from the wind by being down in a vast, semi amphitheatre. There are concrete fireplaces with swing out barbecue plates and a drop toilet to handle the crowds.
That said, I've camped here 4 times now and only twice had another, small, group in the area.

The others arrived an hour or so after me and starting seting up camp.

OzBen in the foreground.

A cold night, warm fire and plenty of campfire bullshit.

The next day I was last away and took my time for the last ~150 kms of dirt before Norseman and the tar again.

I stopped briefly to take this shot of Lake Johnston, my usual campsite.

This too has a drop toilet and fireplace and although more exposed I find the early morning views more interesting than The Breakaways.

On into Norseman where I had breakfast with the group and then we all headed off to Balladonia roadhouse and our second campsite a bit east of there.
Chris (obscured), OzBen, Robyn Morrit and Guzzimike.

On previous Border runs I've left Perth on a Friday for a quick dash to the Border (1550kms) by mid afternoon Saturday. But as I had originally planned this trip with the family I stuck to the original format and left Thursday for a leisurely 500 kms/day ride.

OzBen and Mike planned a more dirt orientated route to the border and left us here for the telegraph track to Balladonia.

A quick stop for photographs and then on to our second nights campsite, not far from here.

This site is a regular stop for many members and friends of the WA BMW club and tonight was no exception as we were joined by more late arrivals as the sun dropped lower in the sky

In the foreground is "Goldie" a long time BM rider whom I first met on a wet and cold afternoon at Cataby roadhouse, north of Perth, about 30 years ago. We chatted briefly and went on our respective ways.
We both continued to clock up big distances on bikes, never meeting again until about 2 years ago, at my mate Bear's place. Funny what a small world motorcycling can be.

Goldie was on his way to the border to meet his old mate Chris McArdle. Chris from Melbourne on the east side of Oz, was carrying a 'surplus to requirements' set of front forks, a present for Goldie.

A quick stop for a brew on the top of Madura pass, where Robyn the Geologist gave us a brief history of the area.

For most of the ride I'd been sitting around 100kph, trying to maximise my fuel economy. I'd had the outfit about 10 months and only had a couple multiday trips with it. One with the family (here)

and one with some mates (here)

After I while I decided to open it up a bit. On "the longest, straightest' piece of road in Australia I chased down the solos and rode for a while at 120, then 130 and finally I took it up to 150, briefly.
At that speed the steering felt a little light but it was obvious the bike with sidecar had plenty of grunt, certainly enough to safely overtake roadtrains and get me out of trouble if needed.

Then finally, we were at the border for the usual catch up of old mates and I won't bore you with too many shots. If you want more info here are two reports I posted on previous years.

The numbers were down on previous ones I had attended but a good time was still had by all.

Sunday morning and our group split up. OzBen on a mission to find more dirt back to Perth, while the others were off to ride east to Wirrulla, where they would then turn off north in a search for more dirt on their way to the Off Centre Rally.

I took my time leaving and stopped a few times for shots of the cliiffs along the Nullarbor.

There are two sets of unbroken cliffs along the south Australian coastline, the Baxter and Bunda cliffs. Both approxiametely 200kms in length.
In 1983 a personal hero of mine, Paul Caffyn, paddled a full circumnavigation of Australia by sea kayak, including non stop along both these sets of cliffs. Each set took him roughly 36 hours, non stop.

Although I've made full vehicle/motorbike/push bike crossings of the Nullarbor about 8 times, the last time I looked down on these waters, I was on my way to Melbourne, in Victoria, to paddle a sea kayak from the mainland ~250 kms across the Bass Strait to the island state of Tasmania.

I remember looking over these cliffs on a very windy day with my paddle partner Gerry Thomas, just wondering what the hell we were getting ourselves into.

Anyway, back to this trip.

Before leaving Perth, I had been keeping a worried eye on the weather in the east of Oz. The Off Centre Rally is always held in an outback town with lots of dirt to get there. Many riders try to maximise their dirt experience on the way there.
I had planned to take a more round about route myself, partly involving the famous Strzelecki Track. There had been a lot of rain over east and many roads were being closed to traffic, to protect the surface from being chopped up by wheeltracks and therefore avoiding costly maintenance work.

By the time I got to the tiny town of Nundroo the rain was gathering.

I opted to overnight at the the little coastal settlement of Fowlers Bay.
The campsite was wet and soggy and I took a cabin, at great expense.

When I'm on a bike trip I try to camp out as much as possible, but I always budget for rooms and cabins, sometimes it just has to be.
The bottom line is, I'm on holiday, not working and being on the road is reward enough, I refuse to let money issues stuff my trip. If I have to take a room, I take a room.

The road into Fowlers Bay.

Actually for $120 it wasn't too bad. If I'd been sharing it would have been brilliant.
Two rooms, plenty of beds and a pretty reasonable kitchen. Another plus was undercover parking for the outfit. A bonus as it was raining as I arrived.

I filed it away in my memory bank for when we eventually do a family trip across.

Leaving Fowlers I stopped for fuel in Penong.

Penong is the nearest town to a famous (although largely underground/word of mouth) surf beach. This beach has been surfed for near on 35 years by a very protective crew. Ocean wanderers who have settled locally and somehow managed to get building approval for about a dozen homes they built near the coast. I stopped off here in 1979 and had a surf, on my way to a mates wedding in SA.

On this trip, on my return, while talking to the camp ground owner, I heard that an Australian travel show had booked rooms in the pub for a piece on the beach. It was going to be hosted by a former VFL footballer with bottle blond hair.

The local crew found out, word was passed back to the travel show, to the effect that violence would ensue if they came.
Bookings were cancelled, no show.

Make of that what you will. I know that I'm not game to mention the beach on these pages, I'd be . . . CACTUS . . . if I did.

Since nundroo I'm back into grain country after the stark beauty of the Nullarbor.
From Penong I knew I had to pull my finger out. I had arranged to meet two fellow Adv'ers, Lout and Andrew2 and travel to the OCR with them. With all the rain, our plans had changed a few times and now the meet was to be in Peterborough, SA, about 700 kms from my overnight in Fowlers Bay.

A brief stop to oil the chain.

For those interested, the front tyre is mounted on the stock GSX1400 rim, normally a 120/70/17,
I've fitted a Metzeler Sahara Enduro 3 rear tyre. A 130/80/17. I chose this tyre as I wanted something with a lot of tread depth that was also tubeless.
As it turned out, it was a great choice, plenty of steering ability in the dirt and long life. I'll post a pic of the tyre at trips end, suffice to say, I fitted it in Perth at the start and after 8,770 kms (of which about 1300 was dirt) it still has legal tread left.

I'm typing this on a day off work with a heavy cold. I need some food and a cuppa, to be continued soon . .ish

Eaglebeak screwed with this post 09-15-2010 at 07:17 AM
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Old 09-14-2010, 10:43 PM   #2
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:06 PM   #3
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Been waiting for this one Andrew.
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:14 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Eaglebeak
Off Centre Rally" this time to be held in the little outback town of Wanaaring.
I lost my clutch kine 50 kms west of their in 01....hard to rough ride it all the wat to tibbourro... good memories... thanks for the re-toughts
From out of a dream I rode to beyond the Horizon. Got Adventure? The Zen Gear

One Meteior Crater surrounded by a lot of roos, emus, Yowies, drop bears and one major flood in the driest desert on Earth... There still was a bottle of red with dinner.

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Old 09-15-2010, 01:13 AM   #5
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Excellent RR so far, EB. You mentioned running into Goldie after many years, and that too happened to me at the border.

I was wandering past the eating area, when this bloke came up to me and said "Dave Hunn?".

I said "who wants to know?"

He said "Goldie".

It took a couple of seconds, and of course it was; he hasn`t changed that much (a bit greyer, maybe) since I last saw him at Alice Springs in the early 1980`s.

I really do need to get over to the west for a week or so and catch up with my mates from days gone by.
David Hunn:
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Old 09-15-2010, 02:05 AM   #6
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Excellent stuff Andrew

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Old 09-15-2010, 02:22 AM   #7
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Great read mate, good outfit too! Well done!
What fuel figures does she get loaded in transit?
Cheers BigFella44

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Old 09-15-2010, 02:25 AM   #8
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That is one goodlooking outfit you got Eagle beak!Sounds like you've lived the life a bit
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Old 09-15-2010, 03:32 AM   #9
Eaglebeak OP
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I had about 700 kms in front of me from Nundroo and made it to Port Augusta very late in the afternoon.
A few calls to the lads and we arranged to meet in Peterborough, either at the onsite van they'd booked or in the pub.

After the worst roadhouse food/snack I'd had in a long time I left Pt Agutta and made it through Horrocks Pass before full nightfall.
From there I had about 100 kms through farm land to Peterborough.

In my youth I did a lot of night riding, usually because the destination was all important. I had a few close calls with wildlife but with youthful bravado, took it all in my stride. These days I can't see any point in it.
I travel to see the scenery, talk to locals, smell the flowers.
I'm a firm believer in the old adage "The journey IS the destination"

Nevertheless I enjoyed my short ride in the rapidly cooling air, the stock headlight on the GSX far superior to any I'd had on a number of BMW's.
Finding my way to the caravan park and finding the van door unlocked as told, I had a shower and then made my way on foot to the pub where a fair crowd of riders were well entrenched at the dinner table.

Dirty Dennis, Chicky, McArdle and Davorallyfan to name a few.

I was too late for the main meal but after seeing this I had to order an apple pie with cream. Nicely followed by a Scotch.

Leaving the crew to wander off to another pub, I made an early night of it, making my way back to the van, where Jim (Lout) and Andrew had also retired to check the weather forecast on Jim's laptop.

It wasn't looking the best, with more rain forecast to pass through virtually the whole area between us and the rally.
By morning we'd elected to travel up the tar on the Barrier Hwy to Broken Hill, where we'd assess the situation.

This was the first time I'd travelled with other outfits and although the day turned out cold and wet I enjoyed it immensely.

Jim had another GSX1400 with a Dusting fibreglass chair and Andrew was mounted on a GS11150 ADV with a make of chair unknown to me.

It was obvious there'd been a great deal of water dropped in the area.
Oz, drought for years and this year it pisses down !

Andrew had ridden from Wollongong and Jim had taken the ferry from Tasmania to Melbourne and then ridden to our meet point at Peterborough.
In Broken Hill Andrew had another tyre fitted to the front of his bike and we then took another van in a park.

So, Wednesday morning we headed for Wilcannia. The rally is on Saturday and already we are nearly there. The weather had made a mess of our plans for more dirt.
Other riders had gambled with the weather and taken other dirt routes. Some made it, some got held up with road closures and some ran into heavy mud and turned around.

I'd already come a long way for this rally and was determined to catch up with mates. I opted for the surer way in to Wanaaring.

At Wilcannia we fuelled up and got some local road reports.
Wilcannia, a bit like the wild west. A lot of heavy security on buildings, not too many people out and about. This place had 3 very noisy dogs behind wire, keeping an eye on the place.

Apparently the road due north to Wanaaring was closed on the lower half but if we took the tar for 70 kms nor west to White Cliffs and then cut across on dirt to meet the main dirt road north to Wanaaring we'd be right, the top half was okay.

White Cliffs, where I was lucky not to get bowled over by the passing traffic.

Some riders had already taken rooms at the pub. Due to some pricing confusion, we ended up at the more expensive "Underground" Motel.

The entrance to the Motel and the sky appears to be clearing.

Burgers at the general store and Andrew and I pick up a 1.2 litre bottle of Scotch for $60 from the pub.

None of us are in the mood for a pub session so we wander back to our room and do some light maintenance on the bikes.

Jim and I both have UHF radios, mine just mounted to the bars, running on it's own battery power and utilising a set of headphones, microphone and push to talk button bought from PHS industries in New Zealand for $50. Jim's running his through an Audio com system and using a short antenna mounted to the rear of the bike.
Even with ear plugs in I can hear him quite well. We've only been sitting on sidecar speeds of somewhere around 80-100 kph and up to this point I haven't had a chance to try it with other riders.

Thursday morning and we push off for the Wanaaring. At first the road seems pretty dry although it's obvious there's been some rain come through.

Then we get a bit of water.

A badly exposed picture of a wreck and three outfits.

Another shallow crossing . . .

followed by this deeper one.

Watching the Dusting go through this made me realise why sidecars are sometimes called "boats".

At this crossing we stopped for a chat and to watch a pair of roos, just sitting off about 200 metres away. We saw a number of pairs, older darker one and younger lighter coloured ones.
Jim retrieved a number plate from the pool of water and 5 minutes later these guys turned up.
I didn't have the heart to tell them "camo" is soo last year !

They'd been out pig shooting and hadn't noticed they'd lost the plate off the Hilux the day before.

A couple more stops, the weather is heating up slightly, although I'm still wearing my full winter jacket I left Perth in.
(The beauty of the outfit, I have a lighter weight summer jacket stowed inside)

Wanaaring had a BIG flood early this year in March and the river is still pretty high.

Finally we arrive at our destination, the tiny township of Wanaaring, population ~50.
Soon to host over 250 motorcyclists, all hungry and thirsty. A great financial boost to the town.

We're 2 days early, plenty of time to catch up with other early birds and wander around, chilling out. For me after 7 days of continuous movement, it's great just to be sitting still.

Andrew and I wander around, checking out the Police Station and local cricket ground, which has seen better days.

In this shot you can see the pub and across from it the levee bank that was built in March to protect the street from the rising flood waters.

A number of riders were already camped down by the river. Here's Snayle showing off 3 Legs new outfit. A fantastic piece of work, with every mod con, including an electric pump for his water tank.

3 Legs came in from the east, I'm not sure how his electrics would have handled the water crossing we went through but I'm envious of his fabrication skills.

Over the next 2 days the place started filling up.
I'm sure many of these shots have already been posted in others reports, but for the benifit of my brother in law in the UK (who only sees my trip reports. My cunning plan to get him to migrate to OZ) I'll just post a series of pics. Apologies to those who have already seen them.

A Darmah outfit. (to my mind, the first reliable Duke. Japanese instruments, German electrics)

A few minor repairs were also carried out.

Greg Doudledays outfit being prepped for welding. Near the steering head I think ?

Two nice old RS's. . taking a rest.

Nick and Gunna's bikes, from WA. Gunna having taken a tumble not far from Wanaaring. Walking, but very sore.

Some women riders as well. Although sadly not enough. Mrs Beak, where are you ?

. . . and of course Claude, on his Matchless.

Some reprobates.

Clancy and Shermel. Gad, you need a bigger chair.

I think he needs a bigger tank.

I love this 75/5

Jack was there with his GSX1400 and monster chair.

Thrasher and Sonia on this . . .

. . . and Harry and Jane on this

Arrived via the Simpson Desert a mere 300 kms or more of endless sand dunes.
Note the hand winches on the front.
the dunes were not too soft due to the rain.

Now the local community had been forewarned of our rally and the parents from the local school (13 students) organised a meal on Friday night, $20/head, in the local hall. Many riders took the opportunity to put a bit of money into the local community.
Saturday night the pub had a fellow from Bourke cook up a giant roast with about 20 camp ovens.
A good time was had by all and more money was raised for the Flying Doctor service, a mostly public funded medical service covering all of outback Australia.
A service used by many outback riders.

The general store also sells fuel, fuel he carts in by the trailer for tourists. having been warned of our rally he's arranged to have a good supply on hand.
With the outfit I can carry a fair bit extra and had enough for emergencies and could have left town without buying any. But I like to put money back into these struggling outback towns, as do many other riders so I filled up in town.
His wife did a roaring trade in quality coffees and breakfasts and were good enough to let me leave water bottles in their big freezers overnight, to use in my esky during the day.
Saturday night after the vote on 2012's rally location I wandered back to "our" fireplace to help Andrew2 with our Scotch bottle. We were joined later in the evening by the store owner and various others.
A great way to end the day.

Sunday is usually "lazy Sunday" where many stay to catch up after the nights festivities, but Andrew, Jim and I had been there for 3 nights already. Although he now lives in Tasmania and spends his days chasing illegal fishermen in the Southern Ocean for the Australian Customs Service, Jim had grown up in northern NSW, about 300 east of Wanaaring. He had organised for us to overnight on his Dad's place, just out of the township of Brewarrina.

I'm a former country boy who has spent over 30 years in a city, I jumped at the chance to spend some time on the property, as did Andrew.

But first we organised to ride out with Dave and Andrew (?). Dave had an unusual split in his rear tyre, a MEFO, and as I had a spare that would fit, we rode out with them on the dirt, 200kms, to Bourke where he was able to get another tyre fitted.

A little bit of tar near the bridge, more evidence of rain

There's always a few road bikes at the OCR's and although I imagine this Ducati rider took the least dirt possible, it's still a good effort to bring this sort of bike onto these roads.

After a short stop in Bourke for coffee and cakes, we hit the road for Jim's Dad's place.
Through the gate and onto the house.

Dad, a sprightly 86 years young and sister.

After a look around Jim took us for a drive around the property. Although his Dad has sold off quite a bit of land, he still retains about 12,000 acres, where he breeds cattle and horses.

A bit squeezy in the cab, a good thing we're mates.

My travelling companions, as 6 of us prepared to feast on a fish caught in the river 100 metres behind the house.

Jim's nephew, Lewton, a smart, switched on kid. Already earmarked for a boarding school in the city so that he doesn't suffer the unfortunate tyranny of distance so many clever country kids suffer from.

In the morning we wandered down to the river, just behind the house. The Barwon, which feeds into the Darling.

All too soon it was time to go, the road called. Next stop Lightening Ridge, an Opal mining town to the north east.

Jim knew a lot of back roads, more dirt to come !

To be continued . . .

Eaglebeak screwed with this post 09-15-2010 at 03:51 AM
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Old 09-15-2010, 04:04 AM   #10
Eaglebeak OP
Aussie BM rider, West Oz.
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Big fella.

At a steady 90-100 kph and no head wind I get about 12 k/l.
I kept fuel figures at every stop and my worst was 9.9 k/l (head winds and speed) and my best was 14k/l (dirt and 80-90 kph)

My average was 12.2 k/l.
8,770 kms overall of which 1,300 kms were dirt and I had strong headwinds on the return leg across the Nullarbor.

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Old 09-15-2010, 04:05 AM   #11
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Great Report. Enjoying it.
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Old 09-15-2010, 04:15 AM   #12
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Nice report Andrew Thanks for posting
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Old 09-15-2010, 04:19 AM   #13
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Old 09-15-2010, 04:28 AM   #14
I like stuff...
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Originally Posted by Sp00k
Great Report. Enjoying it.
^ wot e said
1987 XLV750 long gone, 1994 YZF600 gone, 1999 XTZ660 Tenere gone, >> 2008 Honda Varadero - click here to see <<, 2008 Suzuki DRZ400E. Simpson Desert by DRZ, July 2012
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Old 09-15-2010, 05:26 AM   #15
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Great Ride report Mate.

Thank you for posting .
It was good catching up with you.

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