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Old 05-19-2012, 04:59 PM   #1
crowe2815 OP
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Joined: Oct 2011
Location: andamooka South Australia
Oddometer: 294
My left nut for a kick starter

Well since my first ride report on here I have been clocking up the miles on my DR whenever possible and testing out the abrasive resistant qualities of my riding gear by falling off on a fairly regular basis.

This ride report is basically a look around my little Town of Andamooka in the desert in the middle of South Australia.

There are plenty of pictures below for those with ADD, but I thought I would give a bit of history of the town for those who are interested or for those whose jobs are so boring they would rather read my inane ramblings rather than be productive members of society.

In 1930 two boundary riders (cowboys to the seppos , groundskeepers to the Poms ) were hiding from a rain storm in a small cave when they found some brightly coloured rock which they took home and soon after discovered it was opal.

They attempted to keep it a secret but failed dismally . In my mind it all fell apart something like this.

Boundary rider to wife: “Can you keep a secret?”
Wife: “Of course”

15 minutes later there was a mining rush as word spread like wildfire about the opal find.

And the rest, as they say is history. You had to be a pretty hardy soul to make a living out here back in those days with summer temperatures constantly over 45 C , 110 Fahrenheit or 318 kelvin for the scientists out there. And 0 to minus 5 C , low 20s Fahrenheit during the winter months, add to this a lack of a reliable water and food coupled with a fly population large enough to carry off small mammals .

But survive they did and the population grew rapidly after the war with many refugees from the war torn parts of Europe coming to try their luck. They enjoyed the freedoms that the place offered there was no rules no council or local government (there still isn’t one to this day). You could build a shack out of whatever you liked and call it home.

As with every attempt at multiculturism there were some rough patches. When you put a group of men who were only a year or so ago sworn enemies on the battle field into a small town with only one pub then things are bound to get a little rowdy on a Friday night.

Knife fights were common place and on at least one occasion tables were overturned and used as barricades With the Krauts at one end and the Poles Slovaks and everybody else who disliked the Germans and had a gun on them opened fire in the front Bar.

Things have certainly quietened down a lot since the heyday of Andamooka in the 50s and 60s there are still quite a few people who Opal mine on a full time basis but the majority are part timers who are retired and spend the summer months elsewhere and come and mine in the cooler months.

Any how that is enough history on with the ride report.

It had become apparent to me after I had to ride 15ks (9miles) with a flat front tyre that I should perhaps look at buying a few spares and carry a few tools with me when I went out exploring.

So with that in mind I took off for the nearest bike shop 300ks (186miles) away to stock up on tubes and tools. I also decided that surely not all of my failed attempts to stay upright on my bike could be attributed to my inability to ride so I deemed the tyres to be at least partly to blame . Dunlop 606’s were my weapon of choice I thought these would be more appropriate considering 90% of my riding is in the dirt and sand around Andamooka.

New boots.

Now it would appear that the town planner and the village idiot were one and the same person because the main street through town is also the river bed. The end result being that every time we get a decent amount of rain this is the result

Along this road there are a few of the old miners huts that have been fixed up and restored to there , for want of a better term “former beauty”

An old fella was living in this hut up until 1989.

Inside one of the huts. No reverse cycle air-conditioning back then.

The roofing material is old kerosene drums cut open with a chisel and hammered flat.

Across the road from the huts is one of the two pubs in town and a place that I spend way too much of my time. The responsible service of alcohol laws were obviously not mailed out to John the publican. If you are ever in this part of the world its worth stopping in for a cold beer or 30.

There was a movie shot out this way in the 70s “the last of the knuckle men” this pub features in that movie although it is a little more refined now.
A little bit further along the main road you will find a display of some of the old equipment that was used for mining in the area.

Off the main road you come to the long bus. This is just a couple of old busses that someone has welded together to make a fairly unique house, they also sell Opals and other bits and pieces.

Now some of you may have seen the odd house or two in your area with an old car or two parked up in the front yard up on blocks and rotting away, well out in Andamooka they do things on a much larger scale. There are dozers and scrapers, cranes and trucks, old Chevy Blitzes and cars by the hundreds in front, back and side yards around here.

You are no longer allowed to mine in the town any more but there is still plenty of evidence of the mining that went on. The photo below is of a homemade vent system. The weather vane on the top keeps the cut out section of the 200 litre (44gallon) drum facing into the prevailing wind this allows the cool air to enter the cut-out and be pushed down the tunnel to the miners below.

As soon as you venture more than about 500 metres off the main road the tar stops and you find yourself on gravel roads.

About 8 ks (5mile) out of town you come to the old airport that was scrapped out on an old clay pan. Landing here after rain was not an option. It is a great place to come out and flog old cars to death doing donuts etc.

Once you head off from the old airport you start to hit some dunes and the track surface changes constantly from large rocks embedded in clay to dusty dirty roads with marble sized pebbles everywhere to sand and then to clay pan

Rocks in the track can bounce you around quite a bit.

These sandy sections can turn up quite unexpectedly. And usually on a bloody corner. My arse muscles are getting quite a work out puckering up every time I come belting around a corner from a straight section of clay pan and find myself in the middle of this .
In fact it was one of these sandy sections and my own stupidity that brought me unstuck for the first time on this little ride. I had just entered a nice flat section of clay pan when I frightened a couple of Kangaroos and a few emus that had been hanging about doing whatever it is they do during the day. So they started running and hopping along at a fair old rate of knots on the clay pan beside me.

Oh so you want a race do you?
So I opened up the DR and tried to catch them up.
There is an old Australian song about the Emu.

You can't loop the loop like a cockatoo - Oom ba da little da da da
Swoop and toss like an albatross - Oom ba da little da da da
"You silly galah, I'm better by far, than a white cockatoo or a budgerigar;
They squeak and squawk and try to talk, why me and them's like cheese and chalk"
Ba da da Doo dee ba doo doo doo...Boo da da doot doo doo doo
He can't fly but I'm telling you, he can run the pants off a kangaroo...

And it’s true those emus ran the pants off the Kangaroo and they were doing a good job of beating me too, they have been clocked at up to 75kmh (45mph). Well while I was watching old man emu and the roos having a race and laughing like an idiot into my helmet I was not watching where I was going. I hit the sand going way to fast to take the corner and landed with a thud. I am not a big fan of riding in sand but I do like its softness as a landing pad when falling off. I am fairly sure I heard what would pass as emu and kangaroo laughter as I righted myself and my bike. Smart arse wildlife no wonder we eat the bloody things.

20 ks (12 miles) out of town you come to the edge of Lake Torrens. A large salt lake about 240 kms long(150mile) this lake has only been filled once in 1989. It is pretty impressive to look at.

Some of the hardy plants that manage to live in the salty environment.

A close up of the salt encrusted surface.
To be continued.

crowe2815 screwed with this post 05-19-2012 at 05:20 PM
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Old 05-19-2012, 07:15 PM   #2
crowe2815 OP
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Location: andamooka South Australia
Oddometer: 294
I stood around for a bit having a smoke before the bloody flies got a bit too much for me. It was like having a 3D shadow there were that many of the little pricks.
I decided I had better get the obligatory bike shot.

The bike down near Lake Torrens

I was about half way home when things started to go a little pear shaped for me. I was riding through a decently long sandy section when a bloody great goanna raced out in front of me. It scared the everloving shit out of me. I started swerving and that was the end of that back forth overcorrect swear a little bit and then hit the deck. I think the Goanna was laughing at me to I haven’t eaten goanna but those little bastards are definitely on the menu next time I get a chance.

Not the culprit but probably a close relative.

There was no real damage done to myself or the bike.
Heres a happy snap of the bike in the dirt. Since I was alone there are no photos of me so I sent this off to my art department and they sent back an artists impression what I looked like strewn across the sand.

Notice the nice white boots. Very metro sexual

I picked the bike up and tried to start it. Flooded. No dramas I will sit down and have a smoke and let it sort its self out. Now a smart man would have remembered to turn the key off so the bloody headlight was not draining the battery as I wandered about having a smoke and looking for rocks to throw at that bloody goanna if he poked his head out again for another chuckle.
It had only been about ten minutes since my off when I went back to give the old girl a kick in the guts but it seems that my battery must have been on the way out because I only got 4 or 5 cranks on the bloddy thing before I heard the disheartening click click click click rather than a confidence inspiring whirr whirr whirr.
Fuck a duck!!!!
I had read about how hard it was to push start one of these bloody things on this very forum so I was not overly confident when I looked at the extremely flat and sandy surface that surrounded me.
Half an hour and my complete vocabulary of offensive language later I sat down a beaten man.
I was walking out of here. I had about 12 kms back to town. I pushed the bike in behind a few trees and headed off. It didn’t take me long to relise that I dislike walking through sand a hell of a lot more than I dislike riding through the stuff. Luckily for me I only had to go about 4 ks before I managed to get phone reception.
Once my wife stopped laughing at me I managed to explain to her where I was and told her to hurry the fuck up because by know my sweating carcass was attracting flies at an alarming rate. I had eaten four of the little black bastards already .
The wife arrived with jumper leads in hand and amid her derisive chuckling I managed to start the bike and head off home.

A snap shot of town with the sun setting.

The battery managed to take a charge on the way home so I decided to finish my little jaunt the next morning.

My two goals for today were to not fall off or stall my bike at any point. I also disconnected my lights on the better than average chance that I would fail to meet both of those goals.
I headed out of town in the other direction.
Most of the opal mining done around andmooka these days is open cut. A dozer removes the over burden down to the opal level and then the miners just use hand tools to pick out any seams of opal.

An old open cut mine with Mullock heaps about
White dam is a little mining outpost abot 12 ks from Andamooka and this is where the hard core miners hang out there is no power out here and water is scarce some of these blokes are a bit like the American hill billies. Copperhead road springs to mind whenever I head out there.

Whit Dam in the distance
"He only came to town about twice a year
He'd buy a hundred pounds of yeast and some copper line."
These boys don’t often get into Andamooka but when they do it usually ends up in a brawl at the pub with John the publican having to use his cut down baseball bat to restore order.
The one good thing about white dam though is Bills pub. Bill was an old bloke who was too old for mining any more so he used to sell rough cheap port or Plonk as he called it for two dollars a glass to tourists the majority of this money bill would donate to the Royal flying doctor service. Bill unfortunately is dead now but his pub is still standing with the supply of two litre plonk bottles stacked outside.

The people from Andamooka still come out here once or twice a year to have a fundraiser at the pub for the Flying doctors.

From white dam I took the loop track back home and enjoyed a few beverages whilst ordering a new battery on line.

So I hope you enjoyed my little tour about Andamooka a nice little town with some great people and characters.
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Old 05-20-2012, 01:48 PM   #3
Joined: Mar 2005
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Nice report

And I like your writing. I hope to visit Australia someday.
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Old 05-20-2012, 03:07 PM   #4
Harden the phuck up
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Great writing and excellent photos,(even without ADD they are appreciated ).

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Old 05-20-2012, 06:48 PM   #5
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Love It!!!

Is it me? But you seem to have lost a little weight, lookin good!

Another great RR! Crowe.... Thanks mate.

I have opinions of my own --strong opinions-- but I don't always agree with them. George W Bush
Rotten Mongrel Bastard.
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Old 05-20-2012, 06:56 PM   #6
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Location: Sand Hollow, Idaho
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Art department

did a fine job of "crashartistry"! That is just too funny. Nice scenery also. I hate sand. This was (is) a good read. Thanks for sharing!
For the record, I hate snakes!

Admiral's Voyages
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Old 05-20-2012, 07:03 PM   #7
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Excellent report! That looks like a perfect area for riding with all the variety of terrain outside of town
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Old 05-20-2012, 07:39 PM   #8
If you insist.
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Most entertaining & informative....
Shouda, woulda, coulda but dint.
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Old 05-20-2012, 09:22 PM   #9
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How'd you get there

Great pics. How do you get to such a remote location with mo desert tank or even gear?

RZ Rob
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Old 05-20-2012, 09:22 PM   #10
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Great RR. Made me realize 2 things:

1) I now understand why Mad Max could only have been done down under.

2) Mountains are a good thing when you don't have a kick starter!
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Old 05-21-2012, 12:36 PM   #11
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Loved it!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 06-02-2012, 06:58 PM   #12
crowe2815 OP
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Joined: Oct 2011
Location: andamooka South Australia
Oddometer: 294
Thanks for the replies fellas. I have been out of the country over in Papua New Guinea for work for the last few weeks.So i have not been able to reply earlier.

What a bloody contrast to the desert of SA. The place is nothing but mountain ranges, rain , rain and more rain. Oh and enough trees to keep my dogs legs cocked for eternity.

RZ ROB all of that riding was done within about 25ks of my front door. There is plenty of good sand a dirt riding out my way and when i get sick of the sand i can just shoot 3 hours down the black stuff and find myself in the flinders ranges.
In fact i think the ranges will be my next little outing. It is about time i learnt to fall off in different terrain.

Anyhow i have just landed in Cairns after two weeks in a dry province of PNG so i am about to go and get on the outside of a great feed and eleventyninehundred beers.
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Old 06-02-2012, 07:02 PM   #13
crowe2815 OP
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Location: andamooka South Australia
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Originally Posted by TheAdmiral View Post
did a fine job of "crashartistry"! That is just too funny. Nice scenery also. I hate sand. This was (is) a good read. Thanks for sharing!
I am with you on the hating sand mate. I hope that over time i will master it and make it my bitch, unfortunately at this time it is the other way around.
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