|05-21-2012, 05:45 PM||#1|
Joined: May 2011
Location: Safety Bay, Western Australia
Matty's Outback Adventures - Perth to Darwin and back
G’day, I’m Matty and I’ve taken 3 months off work to ride through the outback from Perth to Darwin and back. I have a wedding to go to on May 25th and I do enough bloody flying for work… excellent excuse for a ride.
This is my first crack at a ride report and my photojournalistic abilities are possibly worse even than my riding skill but I'll give it a crack.
Nevertheless it’s just me and my 2009 BMW F800GS (purchased from fellow inmate OzBen some 9 months ago…she’s travelled this great country before and I have faith that she knows the way). The bike was already well farkled with the usual crash protection, luggage racks and the like. I’ve added a TKC80 front/Heidenau K60 rear, BC front fairing/windshield, PivotPegz, Altrider Rad Guard, Garmin Zumo 660, Steel Pony Panniers, Andy Strapz Tail Bag, Held Tank Bag…. and an AirHawk. I’m sleeping in a Hennessy Hammock, cooking on a Trangia Stove, using a Canon G12 Camera, Asus 13” Ultrabook and carrying a week’s supply of tucker and two days (8L) water at all times. I also have a 12L Liquid Containment Fuel Bladder, Geigerrig Hydration Pack, 1st Aid Kit, fishing rod/reel, a handful of lures and a Spot Tracker.
The weight of all this plus the usual sundry items is 28kg (not including extra fuel). I’ve done plenty of remote area travel before, both 4x4 and hiking, and am confident that I’m prepared.
Day 1: Safety Bay to Kalgoorlie (638km)
The local boys all know this run well enough and I’m not going to elaborate. This is straight bitumen for 650km which is a necessary evil to get out of town and into the goldfields. Horrible weather in Perth and I got pissed on all morning. Soggy balls all bloody day. I grew up in the Wheatbelt which covers most of this area so wasn’t hanging around for pics. Not the most enjoyable way to start the adventure but hey, I ain’t working and Kal’s not a bad spot to wind up for a perv and a beer or three.
Day 2: Kalgoorlie to GCR
Big stint today, finally get off the bitch and onto some gravel. Heading north from Kal I take the detour (Old Laverton Rd) just south of Leonora which goes through the living ghost town of Kookynie.
In 1907 Kookynie was home to over 3500 people, had a public swimming pool, 11 hotels and a brewery. Apparently there are a few people who still live there…I only saw one bloke and he ran the pub/servo/shop. Tiny bar with the usual assortment of rabbit traps, dingo traps, rifles, long-range blackfella spear with scope attached…
Heading NNE the road winds past a few more abandoned town sites from the gold rush days of the late 1800’s. I’m constantly reminded throughout this journey of what that heavy yellow metal has driven man to do. This is hard country. I consider the surroundings from the perspective of my generation, I doubt most would even get out of an air-conditioned 4x4 around here. But then of course, they don’t have to.
Bear in mind this is only just up the road from Kalgoorlie… we’re not even in the desert yet.
I ride through the long since abandoned towns of the gold rush. Most are completely non-existent save the odd foundation and a sign saying “Mount Morgan's - Gazetted 1899” .Seeing it from the relative comfort of my motorcycle during the cooler months is no real comparison. The pioneers who came here back in the day were hard. I continue up the track to a minor turn off designated “Hawk’s Nest” and find an old tyre with “Grave” painted on the side and an arrow pointing into the bush. As if to exemplify my morning's thoughts I end up at the rather lonely grave of one John Aspinall of New Zealand, Aged 23 Years, Struck by Lightning whilst prospecting in 1896. A Sturt’s Desert Pea and a couple of tinnies of XXXX serve as memorial gifts for the young bloke.
Pushing on I pass the turn-off for Murrin-Murrin Nickel Refinery where I worked a few years ago.
I arrive in Laverton at 13:30 and fill up with the last available unleaded petrol (and beer!) until Uluru, purchase a pouch of rollies and a can of Red Bull.
In front of me lies the 1100km Great Central Road through the Gibson and Great Victoria Deserts… the Outback. This is the furthest east I have travelled before by road and I’m keen to get into it. The next roadhouse is Tjukayirla (Chook) and it’s about 320km up the road. The Beemer’s tank holds just shy of 17L which will get me the whole way but I put 5L into my fuel bladder just in case.
I have 4x 1.5L bottles of water and an extra 2L in my hydration pack (I expect this to last 2 days).
Tyres get aired down as I’m called everything from a silly bastard to a mad c*nt (both affectionate Aussie terms) by a few of the local mine workers at the servo.
Quite a few motorcycles go this way each year but it doesn’t seem that many do it solo… for obvious reasons. I let the boys know they should be going back to work and leave that pitiful excuse of a town behind in my dust.
Now this is some road, it’s as wide as and as straight as a highway but that’s where the similarities stop. Immediately leaving Laverton is pretty rough because, as usual, no bastards let their tyres down.
Overall no dramas, arse out, weight back, elbows up and give it to ‘er. I will mention here what I believe has been the #1 Farkle for the trip thus far; The RalleMoto Steering Damper. Awesome piece of kit which I reckon saved my bacon a few times. I can’t praise it enough and it makes a helluva difference to lessening fatigue/softening wobbles and basically with it cranked up to #8 I can ride faster, safer. Some sections I’m down to 3rd and 65kph, others its 6th and 100kph but either way it doesn’t stay the same for long…you’re riding, not just sitting down and cruising. If it’s not the terrain that slows you down it’s the sight of these monster camels, of which there’s a few million wandering around the bush quite happily… you pull your head in pretty quickly and take it easy for a little while after you realise you’ve passed one amazingly well hidden just off the track in the scrub whilst doing 100kph.
I’m not going to make it to Tjuk as it’s 16:30 and I’ve 100km to go. The shadows lengthen considerably and it is getting harder to pick the right lines. I’ve passed a total of two trucks since leaving Laverton. The decision is made to avoid the various camels, roos, emus etc. that are starting to get active and camp in the scrub for the night…the roadhouse hasn’t got beer anyway so what’s the rush?
The bush out here is quiet, almost silent but for the soft cool breeze and the occasional hoot of an owl. Much different to the bush of the South-West with its cacophony of insects, frogs, possums and birds. Instant mashed spud, gravy, beef jerky and a cuppa tea suffice for dinner and it’s off to bed. I’m able to enjoy the stars for the first time this trip and the moon hasn’t yet risen.
It's pitch black and utterly silent as I drift asleep… that is until something scurries along the ridgeline of my hammock from head to toe. I’m up and out with a torch and knife pretty quickly, of course there’s nothing there and the desert remains silent and dark except for the crazy half-naked whitefella.
As I return to bed I hear scratching behind me… turning I catch a glimpse of deathly quiet white flashing through the air as a swooping owl kindly removes and despatches the dunnart (small native rodent) digging at my tucker bag. Thanks mate! Unfortunately the mouse was only one of many who enjoyed running along the top of the hammock throughout the evening…
|05-21-2012, 06:33 PM||#4|
Joined: May 2011
Great post. Enjoying it.
Cancer, Heart Disease, Drowning. All preventable with a vegan diet and a life jacket. (South Park)
|05-21-2012, 06:34 PM||#5|
Joined: Jan 2011
"Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a God, and the only living things that behave like they haven't got one." - The Rum Diary
|05-21-2012, 07:21 PM||#7|
Joined: May 2011
Location: Safety Bay, Western Australia
Day 3: Onwards to Warakurna
I’m up at sparrow’s fart and have my muesli whilst watching dawn break over the desert. My rule when travelling solo on a motorcycle is to wait an hour after sunrise before setting off to let aforementioned beasties bugger off. Time enough to casually break camp and do some exercise before mounting up. I’m not on the road for more than 20 minutes this morning before a kamikaze emu makes a bee-line for me and requires a kick up the arse at 70kph…yep, I’m awake now!
Roll in to Tjukayirla for the bikes first taste of Opal (non-sniff able petrol substitute, more on that soon).
I’m greeted by the lovely young Martha… a breasty 20 something Canadian…. In the middle of the Australian Western Deserts…. Who has her own private stash of Cooper’s Pale Ale (my particular favourite) and no-one to drink with.
Now if I’d have known these facts yesterday afternoon there is absolutely no doubt that I would’ve taken on the fading light and various outback fauna to ride the remaining 100km to the roadhouse… no doubt. Ahh well, shit happens, I bid her adieu and I’m off.
Today’s goal is to reach Warakurna/Giles Meteorological Site, roughly 500km ENE. There’s one stop halfway at the Aboriginal Community of Warburton to refuel. The 250 odd kilometres between Tjukayirla and Warburton is probably the worst stretch on the whole road (this was only the case during my journey and would vary month to month as different sections are exposed to different traffic/levels of maintenance). It varies between soft, loose, corrugated gravel and soft, boggy, corrugated sand sections which can last for many kilometres at a time. Personally, although it was hard yakka, I had little difficulty with corrugations; they are ever present and you soon learn to pick the easier lines. The more difficult area was in switching ruts over the quite large and very soft edges which oft resembled windrows. This differs from the 4x4’s which take the same road as they have no trouble with lateral movement but get shaken to bits over constant corrugation. I wasn’t stopping to take happy snaps of the shithouse sections as I have little interest in picking up 260kg odd of motorcycle, you’re gonna have to take my word for it.
Warburton is reached and she’s getting warmer, thermometer on the bike reading 32.5C just after noon.
What to say about Warburton? It’s not the type of place you’d want to stop and have a picnic. Again the bowsers at the roadhouse are behind cages and you’re forking out $2:30/L for shit that’s not even real petrol (on a side note; I personally didn’t find a problem running the Beemer on Opal. Yes, efficiency and power did decrease but it really wasn’t a big issue). As can be gathered by the pics it’s not a joke travelling through here. Stories abound of Grey Nomads getting bailed up and having everything stolen. Some travellers in petrol vehicles will go to the extent of splashing diesel around their filler caps so as to confuse them. The 10 minutes I spent refuelling attracted unwanted attention from the locals keen to have a closer look at the fuel bladder that I’d had half full since Laverton.
Anyway, no point hanging around so I skol my $6 Gatorade and I’m soon flogging past the blackfella camps/shitholes on the outskirts of town.
Much better road conditions for the remainder of the day and I make good time getting into Warakurna. The photos don’t do justice to how beautiful these hills look as you approach, bear in mind that she’s been pretty flat since leaving Perth. I get to the roadhouse to refuel and pay my $10 to camp out the back (no camping in the scrub around here as it’s all indigenous native land). The roadhouse is closed despite being only 16:00, it takes my rattled brain quite a while to realise that this joint runs on Northern Territory time despite being on the Western Australian side of the border.
I cruise around the back and find a couple of suitable trees away from the grey nomads.
As the sun sets I experience the emotions of a starving dog as I listen to the hiss and pop of bacon, the distant enquiries of “How’s Medium-Rare suit you Bob?” and to add salt to the wound the glorious sound that only an esky full of icy cold beer makes (this is a “dry” area but hey, if I had an Engel I’d have a stash too).
The sickening aroma of the caramelizing pig fat has almost driven me to get my Rambo on and head on a sortie into the nomadic camp when I am repelled by the strains of The Righteous Brother’s “Unchained Melody”.
I shrink back to my kennel on the outskirts in disgust as the oldies raise their drunken chorus and retire to the salvation that is my hammock, iPod, noise cancelling headphones, and Pink Floyd…
Shine On You Crazy Diamond, tomorrow I cross the border and tomorrow night I will dine on Steak and Beer.
|05-22-2012, 02:38 AM||#11|
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Central outback QLD.
Good one, i always look forward to the WA RR's.
There's something ugly about a NEW bike on a trailer.
CCC ride Cattle, Coal & Cane or Captains Crossing & Castlemaine.
|05-22-2012, 03:47 AM||#15|
Joined: Oct 2009
3mnths worth of this....woohoo
iam just not ready to be an adult
[QUOTE=troy safari carpente;24254589]
... the XR is the greatest off road motorcycle ever constructed. There's nothing it can't do, hasn't won or will not outperform.
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