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Old 09-17-2010, 08:32 PM   #1
Blueash88 OP
charlie
 
Joined: Sep 2010
Location: Perth
Oddometer: 6
Indians ...... BMW's & 10,000k trip

My trip ~ 10,000 km including Cape Leveque, Gibb River Road & solo across the Central Highway

map

I blame the Arundel's......
Peter Arundel rode his 30's Indian Chief from Broome to Darwin on the Gibb River road 2 years ago & ....
Brian Arundel was half way round Australia riding his R1200 GSA from Melb to Broome (with his son Max) & now doing the 2nd half (Broome to Cairns) with his daughter Amy.
Brian suggested I join them which got me thinking about touring.

I decided to prepare my 1950 Indian Blackhawk for a road trip & set off on "no mate" tours (ie no one else wanted to come)
I rode up to New Norcia (& stayed in the hotel) via the Chittering Valley & back thru Bolgart & Toodjay on the Sunday.
I covered 500k's & 20k on dirt. Bike went very well.

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Then I found a 2008 R1200 BMW GSA, fully optioned for sale in Perth.
It even had all the panniers & had only done 1000k
I offered a price & got it 4 days before I needed to leave to meet Brian in Broome

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This was the first modern bike I had ever ridden.
Cant believe how nice it was to ride.
Took my son for a quick spin but forgot to put side stand down & over we went.
We could only just lift it up ... very heavy bike when stationary

It came with Karoo tyres which I changed for road tyres.
I mailed the off road tyres to the post office in Broome.
I also fitted a sock to the oil filter & guards over the radiator & lights.
Then it was time to pack

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I used the packing list created by Robin FC Morritt from the BMW owners club in Perth
It was a great help
My daughter helped me check everything off

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Then it was off to Wayne's house to say goodbye to my Indian mates

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Chris wanted to come

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I left at 5pm & rode up to Bolgart. Great pub run by Dick & Deb 50k north of Toodyay.

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I set off early next morning in the mist. It was quite cold & my hands started to go numb. I didnt have enough warm clothes. I stopped in Dalwallinu for breakfast and bought a jumper.

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Then I made my first mistake ..... I missed the Great Northern Hwy at Wubin and found myself in Mullewa
I wondered why the road was so small & wasnt seeing any road trains.
I got the map out & saw that I could cut over to Yalgoo. But the road turned to gravel & got very slippery.
I was sliding everywhere & i had no idea how to ride on gravel. Came so close to falling many times

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But the wildflowers were out & the country looked amazing

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I stopped in Cue for the night. A big storm front was building & suddenly the heavens opened with a massive dump of rain

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The owner of the Queen of the Murchison Hotel in Cue collected bikes
Was that an indian ???????

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The next morning it was still raining .... I waited for a while but it showed no signs of abating.
I had never ridden in the wet & was a bit nervous.
I set off for Meekatharra
After 150k I suddenly heard Abba singing Waterloo. Then out of the mist I saw 2 ladies dancing in wet tee shirts.
I pulled over & was promptly given a shot of Bailey's to drink thru a straw.
I had just met the crew from the WA Variety bash.
http://www.varietywa.org.au/bash

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I stopped riding at Kumarina roadhouse.
As I got north of the rain front the wind started to increase. It was blowing > 30 knots.
The bike was getting knocked all over the road & passing roadtrains felt very dangerous.
It would rock as the wind hit it between each wheel & then a big knock as you passed the front of a road train.

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Continued onto Broome where I picked up my tyres.
$20 to post them from Perth ..... how cheap was that.
I had to take the wheels off myself at the tyre shop & was still charged $80 to put the nobbly's on the rim.
Stayed at a backpackers place at Cable Beach which was very good.

I caught up with the others on Friday, & helped Brian to collect his bike. The others were being trucked up from Melb but were delayed due to the rain.
Brian & his daughter Amy were also riding a 1200 GSA
Frederico (from Spain) was on Brian's KTM
Pos was riding a DR650
Matt was on a Kawasaki.
The bikes finally arrived

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We fueled up & headed north for Cape Leveque.

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The road turned to sand.
Brian & Amy went down & then Pos as we tried to plough 10cm of sand

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The boys on the smaller bikes didn't seem to mind the sand & so were always waiting for the BMW's to catch up.
Dont know how Brian coped with his daughter on the back.

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Then it was my turn. I dropped the bike 3 times. the last 500m was the worst.
By the end of the day I couldnt pick the bike up by myself. Too heavy.

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Our first camp at Cape Leveque.
I should have bought a tent. The swag felt like a coffin in the rain.

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We set off in the morning but this time we dropped the tyre pressure on the BMW's. Seemed to make a diff as I didn't fall off

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Unfortunately Brian dropped his bike 50m from the tar. The panniers fell on his ankle & he heard something snap.
We went to hospital in Derby but they didnt have an xray.
We found out later that he torn a ligament.
His ankle swelled up & you could tell he was in a lot of pain

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Stopped at the famous Boab prison tree

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Gibb River Road at last !

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Start of the dirt ....

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some massive termite mounds

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We stopped at Windjana George to see the crocs

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The tyre pressure warning light came on saying that I was below 2. I checked with my guage and they were fine.
Later I realized my guage was broken & I had been traveling with little air in the tyres.
Always trust the BeeMer

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Our first river crossing ..... was a tad disappointing

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The next one was much better

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Campsite with a view

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That night we camped at Manning George near a monster Boab tree.
A big storm was brewing & by 5pm the lightening & thunder was getting closer.
Then the rain hit. The boys retired to their tents. I just sat there getting wet.
Eventually I set my swag up using the ground sheet as cover
Should have bought a tent !

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Manning George

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Galvans George where a monitor lizard followed us 30m to the pool

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We met Kevin & John Storey & DickMan who had travelled from Cairns at Mt Barnett roadhouse & had a bit of chat whilst we waited for the roads to open.
We had a lot of rain overnight

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but this guy was still wetting the road despite the rain

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Just after Drysdale station I got a puncture. The BeeMer tyre warning system worked perfectly.
When I changed the tyre later in Kununarra I found a 10cm piece of fencing wire in the rim

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Riding with all the gear on in 40+ degrees is a pain. We were all dripping in sweat.
We stopped at Ellenbrae Station for tea & scones & 5l of water !

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Then Brian flagged me down. His tyre felt weird & sure enough we found a decent gash. Had to use a couple of sticky things to plug it up. The little compressor I bought was worth its weight in gold.

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stinking hot > 42 degrees

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finally we get to the Pentecost River & start to cross.
It wasn't to bad

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& at last we reach El Questro where we can get some cold beers

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The next day I swam at Emma George & Zebedee thermal spring

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I said goodbye to the boys & Amy as they were staying another night to try their luck at Heli fishing for Baramundi & headed off over the last section of the Gibb River Road.
I made the HUGE mistake of checking out Wyndam .... which added 200k to Kununarra.
I was so tired I booked into a motel with the aircon blasting.
The next day I bought a new back tyre as the Karoo had 2 holes & was looking a bit buggered.

Onto the border & to Katherine

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Had a swim at the Katherine hot springs

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& then drove up to Edith falls ? & then back down to check out Katherine George

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Camped the night at Bitter Springs

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Hunting for crocodiles

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Then it was off down the Stuart Highway speed averaging ~ 140 ish. I checked out some of the notorious NT pubs on the way

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I tried to get to Lake Woods just south of Elliot but the sand got the better of me & I gave up

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It was still very hot & I had a little siesta to recoup

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more pubs

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The owner of Wycliffe Wells claims that the Stuart Hwy is the entrance for all Alien space craft entering Earth
Some landed near the bike

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more pubs

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Loved the aboriginal statues in Aileron Station

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I had a quick look around Alice Springs & collected the aboriginal permits required to cross their land back to Perth & then headed off to the Macdonald Ranges

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Spent the night at Glen Helen campsite

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I left early as I heard a rumour of more rain coming thru the center of Aust

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The lady at Curtin Springs showed me the weather forecast including a satellite pic of the cloud bank building. She thought the Central Hwy would shut soon so I made a dash for the border.

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A quick stop for pics of Uluru & the Olga's.
Uluru is STILL awesome & I cant wait to bring the kids here to climb it again

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The Central Hwy starts just west of the Olga's. The first 190k's to the border is the worst. it had rained heavily 4 days before & the road was a mess with ruts, mud, pools of water & corrugations

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I made it to Docker River about 30mins before dusk. The roadhouse was shut so I popped into the Police hut to ask advise. They told me the rain was coming & to watch out for camels on the road

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Dusk & the border at last ..... 100 k to go to Giles

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Then it got dark. I was traveling at 50 ~ 60 kmph & couldnt see the dips or where to steer.
It took me 2 hours to get to Warakurna/Giles & I imagined a camel bouncing out at every turn.
The bike would leave a wheel rut & then wobble until it found another.
The corrugations were awful as I couldn't see to pick a line.

Made it & made a bed under the eves to escape the rain

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When I checked the bike in the morning the mudguard had broken its mounts & the rear brake pedal was missing

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Filling the tanks at Warakurna roadhouse. Petrol sniffing is rife so the bowsers are always locked

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I went to see the people at Giles Met office toget an update on the rain. It was coming & raining but I decided to make a 350k dash for Warburton in case they closed the roads

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The roads were much better on the WA side of the border

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Good decision ... they closed the road just as I got to Warburton
Hooooooooooooray

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I caught up with Elvis in Warburton

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There is a burnt out car every 200m on the road

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I shared a camp & a few beers with John Gary & Gilbert 3 farmers from Bencubbin who had done the Gunbarrel at Tjukayirla Roadhouse

I also caught up with them at Kookynie when I realized that I had left my bag back in Laverton
I had to backtrack 200k & added an additional 400k to the days tally
grrrrrrrrrrrrr
very pissed off but at least nothing was missing

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Got a bed at Menzies & a cold bottle of chardonnay

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The bike was covered in stickers ..

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Summary
Always wear a full face helmet. I hit 3 birds at speed & a swarm of bees
Take a tent not a swag
A good radio would be fun at night
I need to get better ipod earphones to block out the road noise

Had a great time & will look forward to the next trip

Blueash88 screwed with this post 09-21-2010 at 04:33 PM
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Old 09-17-2010, 08:52 PM   #2
GB
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Joined: Aug 2002
Location: Toronto, ON
Oddometer: 55,251
Photo attachment does not work, you need to load your pics on a pic hosting site like smugmug.com and then link them to your report.
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Old 11-10-2012, 02:46 AM   #3
Moronic
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Joined: May 2006
Location: Perth, Australia
Oddometer: 1,471
All that work and no responses since September 2010? Bummer!

Well FWIW, two years later this has come up as I chased info on condition of the road to Cape Leveque and I have read it top to bottom.

Fabulous pictures and terrain information for anybody contemplating this sort of trip.

If you ever find your way back to ADV, thank you for posting.

Hey, and for somebody with no gravel experience, you did an incredible job keeping that big Beemer upright.


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Old 11-10-2012, 04:34 AM   #4
Thommo
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Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Blue Mtns Aust
Oddometer: 9
Yes..I agree..its a bit of a sleeper this RR....and valuable if you're heading out that way.....bold mind you! Don't think I'd do it alone!
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:51 PM   #5
Hisso
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Joined: Jul 2010
Oddometer: 2
Well done, if thats your first trip on the dirt i can't wait for the second adventure. Cheers Hisso
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