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Old 12-04-2014, 04:27 AM   #1
XRman OP
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Visiting my Mum in South Oz

Mum is 93 and getting more frail as time passses. During my last "Big Trip" with the Green Triangle Adventure riders group to central Australia I decided to withdraw and visit Mum near Adelaide after she had another fall.

It was decided that she could not return to indpendent living in Mc Laren Vale after leaving hospital, and luckily we found a place for her nearer to my sister's home town. My sister lives 4 hours north of Adelaide and I live 6 hours south. Once she was settled I decided that I would make a trip on my DL650 to visit her new home, just to make sure she was in good hands and happy.

I had 3 days to do the trip. I wanted to make it more enjoyable that just a highway run, so I left after work Thursday and tried to get three hundred kilomtres done, so that I could do a bit of exploring next day.
Spring time in Victoria brings varied weather conditions. As luck would have it the warm weather we had been experiencing turned to bleak wet conditions for my departure. I had packed my camping gear in case of a night out by the trail, but I was hoping it would get warmer and dryer as I headed North.

I left Portland near the S.A. border and dodged the kangaroo infested forest areas by veering NW at Condah, skirting along the ridge tops of the rolling hills of Tahara. It was still lovely and green in the farming areas with many fat cows and sheep in the paddocks. By the time I reached Casterton ( home of the Kelpie sheep dog) my hands were getting cold even with road gloves on. I stupidly had forgotten that I had fitted hand warmers to the bars. Casterton was winding down for the evening and although it is a very picturesque township, I wasn't in the mood to stop for photos. I was on a mission to get some serious kms. done that night.

Between Casteron and Penola there are extensive tracts of native forest and some big plantations of pine and blue gums. This makes for a wonderful habitat for roos, wallabies and emus so my eyes were scanning the roadsides constantly. Memories of my 5 broken ribs and concussion from the last roo encounter are still vivid in my brain. I made good time even at the 100 kph speed limit ( 60 mph) and by the time I was 50 km. out of Penola the DL's fuel light was blinking at me. How much range did I have left I wondered? I know it is supposed to go 400 km on 20L but the headwind and luggage might make it much less. Then I began to wonder when the fuel stations closed. Penola isn't that big and some places are locked up at 5-30 p.m.

I need not have worried I found fuel and added 17 L to the tank, and this time zeroed one of the trip meters. This came in handy next day. From Penola I switch on a route on my GPS that I had downloaded from www.transaustraliatrail.com.au which is like a lending library for adventure riders to share their trip logs. I wanted to used some dirt roads that ran parallel to the highway up through the wine growing area of the Coonawarra district. I had edited Bull600's GPS log and hoped that I would find a suitable camp site along the way. It was still light at 6-30 and I judged that I would need to stop by around 8 p.m. ( roo o'clock),

Well the dirt roads were very good and the 2013 model DL650 coped adequately so I made some good distance heading north towards the town of Keith. I found some good forest areas ( scan for roos) and good scenery as I followed the major power lines. Do I stop or keep going was my concern? Looking to the west the rain clouds approaching made my decision for me. The little tavern at Willalooka was not far away and being mid -week it was sure to be empty of patrons; Wrong. I got here on dusk and the place was full of working men and their utes ( pickups). I got the last room available. I had a couple of Coopers Ales and a great dish of fish pasta with dill from the specials menu. The very attractive blonde hostess was very pleasant too. I rode my bike over to the accommodation block and promptly put my foot into the only hole in the entire darkened parking area. I can report that I can lift a loaded Glee- strom at the age of 60. The room was neat and clean so I enjoyed a comfortable night. It rained hard all night but I was warm and snug. Tomorrow would be another day of adventure and exploring.

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Old 12-04-2014, 04:31 AM   #2
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oasis

Willalooka looked like an Oasis of green compared to the surrounding area. They even have a mini sports field for patrons to fantisize that they are AFL football heroes. This region is about 200 km inland from the ocean and the start of the wheat belt.

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Old 12-04-2014, 04:38 AM   #3
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heading west

So now I was heading west, then north, then west bordering wheat crops and cattle farms. The dairy farms were left behind and the grape vines are not seen in this different soil area. it had not rained here for some time and luckily the roads were not as slippery as I had anticipated.

I started to relax a little about the roos in this more open terrain with little road side vegetation. I started to feel more at home on the DL on dirt, though I began to wonder if I could add my DRZ forks to the DL. It was still cold. I think having a temperture guage on the dash makes it worse!
8 degrees in Spring! WTF.

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Old 12-04-2014, 01:41 PM   #4
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Harvest time

The paddocks are being harvested and many headers and trucks sat idle in the fields waiting for the sun to dry the crop enough for the silos to accept the moisture content in the grain.



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Old 12-04-2014, 01:45 PM   #5
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cold &wet

This road sign caught my attention. How appropriate! What I did notice was a small MX track that a farmer had made for his children. I resisted the temptation to see how well a loaded DL650 would jump. I suspect not as well as I saw on Youtube, especially with me at the controls.

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Old 12-04-2014, 02:03 PM   #6
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back on the black top

I don't know how many terms there are for sealed roads, but at this time it was a welcome sight. I could make up some time after waving to the kids on the school bus.



I was heading into Keith before looping back out into the cropping areas. The terrain turned into sandy thin looking soil showing that this area used to be under the sea many millions of years ago. I just touched into Tintinara ( great sounding name heh?) where I checked my fuel level on the guage. Two bars of five were showing so I thought 40% = 8L =160 km range and some of it will be sandy. Nah it should be fine. I will refuel at Tailem Bend on the River Murray.

On the way I notice this monumnet that related to our gold rush history. It seems miners from S.A. were required to sell their gold to S.A. government officials who then transported it under guard back to Adelaide via a rough track.

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Old 12-04-2014, 02:18 PM   #7
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Looks like a termite mound

The natural foliage turns into low scrubby trees.



Then I found a great camp site amongst the granite boulders. Photos missing !!! I will try later to upload to photobucket.

After some interesting dirt roads I started to head north west on a series of long limestone topped roads that allowed higher speed travel. Then I noticed the fuell gauge was flashing madly at me. Oops! I was 50 km from a Tailem Bend fuel station so I dropped the speed to 80kph and nursed the DL into town. I fuelled up with 18.5 L (that was close) and a coffee and finger bun ( A SA bakery specialty).

Next was a high speed (well 120 kph) into Murray Bridge where I crossed our nations biggest river (River Murray) on the old bridge.

There are some old paddle steamers preserved to show how produce was tranported in the olden days.


Well before my time anyway. Now it was warming up to 22 degrees C. so I stripped off a layer and donned my MX gloves and turned off the hand warmers.
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:19 PM   #8
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Cheers to you have a good and safe trip and needless to say you will have some fun along the way good for you! Have enjoyed the journey with you
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:23 PM   #9
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exploring the river land

Rather than heading up the freeway into Adelaide I chose to skirt up the inland side of the Adelaide Hills ( Mt. Lofty ranges) just to see what was there and avoid the traffic.

Cropping land as far as the eye could see in all directions.
Abandoned farm dwellings made of stone are a S.A. iconic sight along with crows and dust and dead foliage. It doesn't rain much North of the Goyder line ( the line which was thought to delineate reliable cropping land from unreliable)

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Old 12-04-2014, 02:28 PM   #10
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selfie of bike

long straight roads.


but the scenery was O.K.

After a while I headed through the Hills on winding roads heading to another famous wine growing area; the Barossa Valley. I lived there until age 10.

At Kapunda I stopped to photograph this mining monument. It was getting hot now. My great grandfather is buried at Kapunda. He was a wheelwright.
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:34 PM   #11
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Clare Valley next

So after the traffic and semi drunk tourists in Nurioopta ( another good name) I kept going north into the Clare Valley. Once again a wine area, but fewer tourists. I headed through a series of towns & had a break at Gladstone.


It was rush hour.


I met a couple from Adelaide out for a run on this classic BMW. We had a chin wag ( shot the breeze)
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:39 PM   #12
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Made it.

I arrived in Stone Hut after refuelling in Laura. Strangely I bumped into my sister at the post office in Laura. Hey sis can you pickup a 6 pack for me please?


It is called Stone hut because an early settler constructed a Stone Hut on the stage line for passenger comfort and watering the horses.

That is my sister and brother-in-law
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:44 PM   #13
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Mum is doing fine

Next day we travelled by car over to Crystal Brook to visit Mum in the Willochra Home.

As far a s Nursing homes go this is a good facility. Mum is happy there. She is a bit forgetful now, but generally lucid.
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:48 PM   #14
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hot

With temperatures into the high 30's we took Mum to a local cafe for lunch and then had a tour of Crystal Brook.
The pubs were closed!









It is a tidy little village and some nice parks nearby.



Check out the size of these gum trees.
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:53 PM   #15
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Stone Hut tour

After dinner My brother-in-law took me on a tour of Stone Hut. We took a look at the orginal hut and the newer house ruins.




Stone Hut has a population of 10 I think and in the past it was a railway support town/ trading route stop over.

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