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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by dirt_bloke, Oct 20, 2013.
In Alberta and all of North America as far as I know that's a pump jack.
Thanks RedDog, interesting thing to watch. I'd imagine there is an art to setting them up.
mettalique, philth will probably be going next winter...
If my new employer (yet to find one ) lets me I would like to do it as well. Noah who's riding rtw is keen too. I'll have to warn the 'merican about the carnivorous bilby We've only got the drop bears here, and they only target people without aussie accents. FACT http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/journal/drop-bears-prefer-travellers-says-study.htm
As you can see there isn't too many trees for the Drop Bears to fall out of. As with most things in nature, there is always the 'Alpha Predator'. In that part of Australia, it is the Lesser Eared Carnivorous Bilby. You don't hear too much about them as not many back packers get there, and you also have the government cover up.
BTW, how are Patty's folks going with the fires?
Day 5 The Old Strzelecki Track to Innamincka.
With the daily ritual of caffeine, bacon & egg sandwiches and prescription drugs done, it was time to put out the fire, clean the camping area, pack and hit the track.
Flash was having a ride on Tanks bike, heading north we intersected the Strzelecki Track, this is where we really made a blue. Sand riding was not working for Flash, I thought he was doing well. We decided to head east then north along the Strzelecki Track.
Things were looking good until 20km south of Innamincka. Fair dinkum, Fred Flintstone must have built this piece of shitty road. The suspension was copping a flogging picking a clean line was next to impossible, Yogi lost his number plate, at one stage I hit a rock so hard it broke my lower front mud guard and mounts also later found a bend in the rim grrrr.
Despite the bone jarring ride we all arrived safely at Innamincka. Booked into our accommodation to be told that they had double booked the Bunkhouse, but we would be upgraded to the flash rooms, score! It was also getting hot, so we had to have a few drinks in the bar to cool down with.
Just how bad are roads out here? Old Mate in the VW had broken a drive line while doing the Father/son holiday bonding thing. Cost him a shit load of money to get towed, then get the part transported up. The 13YO son races RC cars and was quite handy with the repair. So in the end they had a good but expensive bonding trip. VW reckon that nobody had ever done that before, naturally!
For our overseas readers, Innamincka is a rather special place in Australian history. Ill-fated explorers Burke and Wills meet their deaths on the banks of the Cooper Creek near the township, mainly because they were pretty hopeless Bushmen. There is bit of reading to make sense of the whole sorry tail.
For us it good to see these places first hand to see what they endured and putting that part of the countries folklore into prospective.
The Dig Tree at camp 65
The face of Burke carved by Bushman John Dick 1898 (50 years after the Dig Tree incident)
Did I mention it was hot? The Queensland part of the road back to Innamincka. The South Australian part of the road is the aforementioned rocky road from hell.
Stupid horses standing in the midday sun.
When you get to 50, an afternoon nap is quite ok.
Meanwhile Flash was giving this Truckie a hand to load a crashed Harley. This bloke was a funny bastard! He was going off about the complete dickhead who tried to ride that piece of shit out here, had no fuckin idea what he was doing, look at the front tyre nearly completely bald then he went on to tell us stories of having to load up 4x4s that city fuckwits who drive too fast for the conditions had totalled, the best stories were of the wives that had totally lost their shit with the lets go explore the outback trip!
If you find something lying about in the bush, place it next to a bowser and people will photograph it.
Map shows us travelling the Old Strzelecki Track, gave up trying to get it to work.
We only did 89km, which was planned so we could do the touristy thing. Cable ties came to the rescue with the front guard.
Good tale well told, keep it up ,thanks.
I know some of that country, thanks for giving me the revisit.
I think it was the same truckie loading a BM the night I was there in August.
G'day Porty, he said he's up there every couple of weeks. Supplies in/ damaged vehicles out. Crusty old bugger, dry sense of humor, be tops to have a few drinks with!
Starts getting interesting now..
Day 6 Innamincka to Birdsville via Walkers Crossing
Originally we were to be heading north to Cordillo Downs, to see the famous historic Woolshed, but apparently there is nothing left but a big empty shed and from reports of various people we talked to the road was so bad, just about every vehicle that goes sustains some sort of damage. We chewed that over and decided to go for plan B, Walkers Crossing.
From reports I had read here and other sites, this was a pretty full on track, that crosses the Strzelecki Desert and over the north eastern side of the Sturt Stoney Desert (the Gibber Plains), sounds tasty! However, during the trip planning I had not gone over every inch of this track on Google Earth, so I just hoped there were road signs along the way.
The first leg out of Innamincka was the Fifteen Mile Track running WSW for 47km, intersecting with a gas field road, north for 8km then back to a track going NW. Some section where deep sand also there was a lot of gas field utes and semi-trailers hauling wide loads to keep you on your toes.
So far things have been going ok, the signs have been
One piece of kit that I have failed to mention is Yogis trailer. 7x4 Nathan with an extended draw bar. For the trip it got new wheel bearings, tool box and light truck tyres. Once the bikes were off, we loaded it with camping gear, fuel, water, spare tyres and half the luggage. Considering the shit roads we went on, it did a marvellous job without a failure or flat!
Tanks drugs had not really done the job for him, so Pryo took over on the DR. We are just about to get into real maze of the gas fields. The whole thing starts to unravel about 5 minutes later. The battery on my UHF dies (helps if you charge the thing), I thought the track was pretty good, so crack along at 90-100kmh, I can see Yogis light through the dust
for a while.
Navigation was determined by where you were told not to go. My RACQ map says the following:
Many wide well graded roads radiate from the Moomba gas installation leading to various well heads.
So I thought it was pretty straight forward, tracks going off to the side would have a Private Road sign, you stayed on the road you were on. In hindsight it may have been when the Emu tried to take on the Tiger I may have missed the sign. After not seeing Yogi for a little while I pulled up at a Tee Junction with sign posts, Innamincka (where I had come from), Birdsville (right), Private Road (left) and waited for a little while.
Nothing. So I turn around and start heading back. Come to think of it, after the Emu the track had got really sandy. Then Yogi turned up, we had a bit a discussion and said Pyro had turned down another track. Not good, also it was rather hot.
So we headed back some more, meeting up with Pyro struggling though the deep sand with the Prado not far behind. Flash hangs out the window, you missed the turn-off
Dirt what fucking turn-off
Flash the one back there
Anyway it went on for a bit and got a little heated. The track Pryo went down the sign had been bent around, the Tee Junction was a proper sign, we followed that direction with the plan is to stop at every intersection until the next person arrives (as it should be, yes you can all roll your eyes).
So were travelling along this sandy track, gas pipes to the left and right in between dunes in the mid-morning sun. Then there was a track to the west Fly Lake, ok this looks like whats on the map, we should be continuing North West. Well that only lasted a couple of kilometers, then the track takes a turn to the east, not like the map, over a dune into a Tee Junction.
This new road seems to be a major gas field private road, the sign post are just for the gas fields and dont give any clue to which way to go.
By this stage Flash is getting a bit agitated, Tank is cranky but keeping it together, Pyros not happy but getting on with it and Yogi is just pissed off. Oops I think I may have screwed up here!
We could be,
Just a little bit,
To be continued
Nice report - keep it up and stay safe out there.
And thanks for sharing a bit of the history.
BTW, with what camera did you take the wide shot, Day 5?
It turned out great.
Revisits are cool. Other RR I've read here of my old stomping grounds have always brought a wry smile.
Going for the ride is always good, but these days I do a bit more study on the history of places. So sharing the history is a pleasure.
The first image on day 5 was taken on a Panasonic HDC-SDT750 3MOS HD SD card camcorder: http://www.panasonic.com.au/Product...igh+Definition+Camcorders/HDC-SDT750/Overview
The still images are 14.5MP. Then cropped with PhotoStudio 5 and height reduced to 350 pixels.
(Not sure how much detail you're after!).
The images are a mixture of everybody's pictures. Between us we took about 19G of images and video. If the kids are bad, I make them sit with me and watch it!
Lost, like when youre in a strange town visiting that strange cat loving Auntie who has been harassing you to visit so she can see the kids, who insisted on giving you directions after she had too much medicine. But who the hell were we going to ask for directions from out here?
Anyway these blokes wanted an adventure they should just harden up a bit and enjoy where Ive brought them to.
However it was probably best not to mention that as things were a little tense, Pyro could whip out the BBQ plate and have a fire under it in no time, the others have me carved up eaten with my bones and bike buried by sundown - easy.
Id better come up with a plan.
200m from the intersection there was an unmanned gas pumping station. While the guys were consulting there maps, I went for a ride to see if there was some sort of comms to contact Oil & Gas Mission Control. Nothing there. Then as luck would have it, a field service ute trundles down the road.
Bloke Bit lost are we?
No shit Sherlock!
Anyway we had a bit of a yarn, we had, I had missed the turn and we were in the middle of the Fly Lake gas fields on their very flash private road. Pointing us in the right direction, he also mentioned that the track north of Walker Crossing was single lane wheel tracks and that he had rescue a bike rider the day before who had gone under a 4wd.
We got going again in the right direction, along the right road and soon arrived at Walkers Crossing.
We had lunch and contemplated our next move. Originally we were going to camp the night here, but there was no water in the creek, it was rather hot and the flies were pretty thick.
Then this bloke & missus rocks up with push bikes in the back of the ute. He had just completed a Mountain Bike race across the Simpson Desert, doing it in a race time of 36 hours coming 12th! Makes us all look pretty soft!
After lunch, we decided to push on and look for a good camp site in a couple of hours. Pyro would drive ahead and talk to the south bound traffic on the UHF to give the bikes a clear path. This part of the ride was hard work, lots of deep sand in tyre ruts. The scenery was interesting with the trees and shrubs adapted to the heat and lack of water. I didnt get any photos as it was hot and we had to be totally focused on the job.
About 3pm we found a dried up water hole with a good amount of shade, we contemplated setting up camp. A south bound 4wd pulled up to have a yarn, he suggested a camping spot by a river 20km up the road, sounds great. 5km up the road we went past a prime spot, geez this other place must be flash!
Then next 15km the vegetation thinned out to just dunes and salt bush. So we push on another 10km, another 10km to eventually we pop out of the last dune into this:
Sturt Stony Desert. The Gibber Plains, Gibbers, Gibbers and more Gibbers.
The idea of camping on the Gibber Plains was somehow bizarrely attractive, but it was too early in the day and still way to hot. Riding this track wasnt too bad, there was one line with few Gibbers, but it took some concentration to get right.
Over a grid we came to a Y junction with no signs. This time we got out the Garmin eTrax and maps, worked out where we were and where we wanted to be, then looked at the tyre tracks. We turned right, followed the track through some station and ended up at the Birdsville track next to the Koonchera Dune. Yogi and I fuelled up out of the Jerry cans and we headed north.
Not long after the touristy photo in the old ute, Tanks bike died and refused to start, the clutch case was also extremely hot. Then the stepper motor on the Tiger decided to out in sympathy FFS. Vapour lock on the DR, dust in the Tigers stepper motor.
With only 83km to Birdsville and 45min of daylight left we decided to make a run for the pub. Only had to dodge a few bulls, not many roos & emus. Hit the Queensland border just on dark, pulled into town not long after. Got a room, beer and food. Big Day.
While having a quiet beer we were told of all the horror stories of the seasons bike accidents. How bad the track was from the people towing camper trailers across the QAA line to the Birdsville races. Lots of interesting and not so interesting stories.
About 370km. more interested in having a beer than looking at the mileage! Apart from the stepper motor, the Tiger once again did the job well, however the fuel consumption went up... Something to keep in mind for the soft sand.
Forgot the map again:
The blue line was plan A, past Cordillo Down, The green line in the Walkers Crossing track, sort of, as the track doesn't show up on Google, I made it as close to what I could find.
I've tried to find the track we went but Google earths photos are too old. It will just have to remain a mystery.
Those pumps are called "Beam Pumps", usually they run off the natural gas they pump out keeping them self sufficient.
Thanks zoro, this one was a diesel job. I thought they just did oil, I'll put the bit about Beam Pumps in my CV when I'm chasing work out there.
Day 7 Birdsville
The iconic Birdsville Pub
The pubs Variety Bash weapon. > http://www.variety.org.au/bash
Our plan for the day was to ride out to Big Red, do a few dunes to assess the conditions. Up until now the ride had its moments but nothing that was over the top hard. After the appropriate amount of caffeine and prescription drugs, we took off. Pyro, Tank & Flash in the Prado, Yogi and me on the bikes.
Not sure about the road out to Big Red. Not sure if it gets used so much, the local council reckon everybody will drive it anyway, local mechanics need to make money from repairs or its there as a joke and the locals have another track, but words fail me how to convey how bad the 36km of road is.
We pull up at the picnic table to let some air out of the tyres. The travel sign gave you a good idea what to expect. We had a bit of yarn with some city people with their flash 4wds, the wives waiting impatiently in the heat, while their husbands pumped up the tyres with their new and shiny pump kits.
Large size> http://people.aapt.net.au/~groovin/desert_ride/d703.JPG
Then we were ready to go play.
Id never rode up a proper dune before, sat there looking at it, thought oh well, better get on with it then
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I thought Little Red was relatively easy, Yogi was wrapped, both up now drama.
On top of little red looking west. We had a bit of a look around soaked in the view and decided to ride out to the next dune.
Next dune was a bit more intimidating.
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Looking west from the second dune, the track was cut up and soft. This gave us a better idea what we would be facing.
On the way back we could see the tracks up Big Red were chopped up, so we gave that a miss and decided to go back up Little Red.
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I did aim for the right wheel track but hit that hole at the base, it was all over from there. Pushing the bike up in first gear even with the help of Tank, Pyro and Flash really knocked me about. Not as fit as I once was! Yogi came up the right wheel track peddling hard with a big roost tail out the back, his DRZs motor pinging rattling and sounded like it wasnt happy at all.
Stopped on the way back while waiting for the others to catch up. Contemplating whether or not Id ride the Simpson. It was about 40degC the heat haze across the flat shimmered like an exotic dancer beckoning you to touch her, then you get the crap beat out of you by the bouncers.
The lure of the Simpson out to Poeppels was strong. It's hot, the next couple of days were forecast hotter, the track was in bad condition, I'm not fit enough to pick the bike up time after time in the soft sand in that heat. Simple risk assessment stuff. I pulled the pin on the ride.
After dinner we decided on our next move. Pyro still wanted to do the Inside Track then up the K1 line to Poeppels, then back along the QAA, Flash & I were in as passengers. Yogi and Tank need to do some maintenance on their bikes. Teed up leaving the Tiger and trailer on the pub with the manager, trip sorted.
They knock up some good tucker at the pub.
Day 8 Birdsville to Poeppel Corner
As this leg of the journey involves riding in a 4wd, it will be brief. The information is more about the tracks for your trip preparation.
Trailer and bike enclosed in the ring of safety
While on our way to the bakery for breakfast, we spot old mate taking the camels for a morning walk.
Route information: Inside track, generally good, few interesting cattle grid crossings, take care, with the last 20km(?) back in the Sturt Stony Desert. Much better than the Outside track.
Flash filming me getting a few special rocks for the kids, not just any rocks, special rocks.
Route information: If you are heading north along the Birdsville track and wish to do The Inside Track, this the turn off, dont miss it!
Looking north west at the intersection.
Warburton track, Im sure you can work that pic out for yourself
Route information: Warburton track; interesting scenery, sandy, a bit like Walkers Crossing.
This the start of the Rig Road, the road is supposed to have a clay base and be easier than the French line. You would have to get the shovel out and dig to the peak off the first dune we are standing on!
K1 Line, like the Warburton track, sandy, easy in other places, interesting scenery.
We found a flattish treed area to camp, about 20km south of Poeppel Corner, Ill put the GPS coordinates up in the ride wrap up bit.
Really enjoyed the camp out there, worth the effort even though I didnt take the bike. Im sure I would have made this part of the trip without any drama. Once again the stars were incredible and the nothingness intoxicating.
Thanks for taking us along. Very much enjoying the RR
Glad your enjoying it Tom.
Day 9 Poeppel Corner to Birdsville
Up before the sun, overnight was quite cool but wouldn’t last long. We had our caffeine, bacon & egg sandwiches, but no prescription drugs for me today. Put out the fire, clean the camping area, packed and hit the track to Poeppel Corner.
Time for a rant. Why the hell can’t people take their rubbish back with them (deleted the real rant)…Grrrr.
So, we made it. The history about this corner and the original survey team is a good read.
Route information: There are two ways to get up to the QAA line, NNW from the corner a bit of a challenge, then there is the easier continuing along the French line to the K1 Line then head north along the edge of the dry lake
Some interesting sights along the QAA line.
Route information: QAA line; my take on the condition of the track, at the time we went over it, was I had made the correct decision (for me) to leave the bike parked. With the west approach of many dunes badly chopped up.
Maybe I could have made it riding east to west up the steeper face, but the Prado would have struggled, it’s all academic now.
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I haven’t driven dunes either until this trip! Now Pyro shows how to get up Big Red:
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Just after I’ve taken this shot, Pyro yells out, there’s a bike coming over the last dune! Turn around, to see this:
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Now I know of an inmate who was supposed to be doing the QAA about today with another 6 riders, hmmm a solo rider in this heat! Iron man? Crazy man? If it's the inmate, where are the other riders? I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.
We got back to the Birdsville pub, Ben the Manager asks if we took the bikes out. Then proceeds to tell us that there is some sort of drama with some other bikes out in the Simpson, the rescue copper is on its way, no aviation fuel can be used by anybody else.
Things get a little bit strange here. The local copper is out of town, the pub is getting calls from wives, emergency services etc. It appears there is are bikes crashed, stranded and with busted up riders all over the deserts from the Walkers Crossing Track to the Hay River Track. We have a few beers, listen to a few wild rumours of what people have heard.
It’s clear that nobody in town really has a clue what’s really going on. After dinner I decide to go for a walk and find the rider to make sure he’s ok and offer some assistance if possible.
In the Caravan Park there is the KTM with ADV sticker on the back. I knock on the door and introduce myself to Guy, he pours me a Rum. We have a yarn about the ride, there doesn’t seem much I can do to help. There are no signs of any medical problem (dehydration etc.)
The bloke is fit, knows how to ride and knows how to keep hydrated. Enduro competition will give you those skills. Meanwhile his phone is going every minute or so with a family member/friend or wives of the other riders checking in. I’m satisfied he’s not going collapse/drop dead leave him to answer the phone.
Wander back to the hotel not long before the Copper arrives.
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The whole story is long and a little complex, the guys got rescued, nobody died but there are lessons to be learned:
The Lone Ranger should have known whether Tonto would suck the poison out BEFORE the snake bit him on the dick.(Yes I do know how to treat snakebite).
I've been a bit busy doing family stuff, so anyway on with the story:
Day 10 Birdsville to Yaraka
While doing maintenance, Yogi found that his cam chain tensioner had failed. It was all over for his ride on this trip. They decided that they would load both bikes on the trailer for the trip back to Brisbane.
The day was going to be hot, there was a strong northerly blowing, (see the flags above the pub), it was to get worse. I rode out of town with the guys in Pyros 4wd following. We were heading east to Windorah, the wind had picked up to a sand blasting furnace. I suspect the guys were enjoying an air conditioned vehicle
Keeping the bike in a wheel track, let along find a smooth line was hard work. Every now and then there would be a stretch on tarmac (some would double as an emergency land strip for the RFDS) this would give me a chance to rest and suck down some water.
Dreamtime Serpent near Betoota.
One rest stop was particularly stunning and worth stopping at; Deons Lookout.
I had to turn the bike into the wind to stop it from getting blown over!
At around 2pm we arrived at Windorah. After fuelling up and lunch I decide it was too hot to continue, the guys wanted to head straight back to Brisbane, it was time to go our own way. Loaded the rest of my gear on the bike, headed over to the bike rider friendly Western Star Hotel had a few drinks and waited.
About 5:30pm I headed north east to Yaraka. Windorah is on the Thomson River, Channel Country. East of town there was one bridge after another with remnants of waterholes, debris and damage from various floods. This country is harsh, its either in drought or flood.
I made Retreat just on dark, on a wide graded dirt road. 95km to go - this would be interesting.
Heading north east on newly laid tar seal the road at 60kmh was easy, the LED light bar really proved its worth, dodging kangaroos was a test of complete concentration. The tar ran out after 50km, I just had to be smooth on the brakes.
About 20km out of Yaraka a young buck is on the road, I could tell this bloke was going to be trouble. Slowed down, the buck turned bounded twice off to the left, I picked up the throttle then it turned to me one bound it was right next to my left leg, next bound it was into the front of the bike.
STUPID BLOODY ANIMAL, it happened so fast I didnt even have time to kick it. Getting the bike back under control. I turned around to see any luggage had been knock off and kick the roo if it was still there. No roo, no dislodged luggage but interestingly the tyre tracks took a sudden move sideways where the impact happened! Made Yaraka with no further drama.
Yaraka must be an aboriginal name for Night time meeting place of kangaroos they were everywhere.
Rode up the main street of town to find the pub shut, it was only 8:30pm! Found a house with an outside light on to ask if there was a camping ground, the lady there asked suggested I could camp on the porch of the community hall. Shower toilets and shelter, excellent.
With mounting points broken underneath, I may have to replace the guard.
About 585km of straight road, bloody hard work. Stepper motor playing up doesn't help.
Day 11 Yaraka to Springsure
Community hall at Yaraka.
Up before the sun, packed and on the road to Blackall with mornings cool temperature. Good road lots of roos out, just before the one house local of Emmet it turns into an incredibly poor rocky goat track (I dont think the local council likes the family who lives there).
10 minutes later there is a new shiny 4wd stopped in the middle of the track. Jim and Jenny, retired graziers from Muttaburra, had destroyed a tyre on the crap road. Gave them a hand to change the tyre, then away again. He was travelling at 110kmh, I suggested slowing down maybe a good idea.
For years Ive heard theres stuff-all (fuck-all) at Blackall, so I really wanted to see their stuff-all. Actually the town was very pleasant with lots to see, including the Jackie Howe museum
Shearing legend Jacky Howe.
Having breakfast at the Bakery, I first meet up with Ron and Susie a retired couple doing the Grey Nomad thing. Had a look around, fuelled up then headed south east to Tambo on the Landsborough Hwy.
As I was travelling slowly enjoying the stuff all, this 4wd towing a large off road caravan passed me. The rear luggage rack had snapped, dragging all their crap with sparks from a push bike and various other pieces of debris spraying everywhere including me, along the road. Called them up on the UHF, stopped to help but there wasnt much I could do.
Just out of Tambo on the Wilderness Way. (After running into Ron and Susie again at Tambo).
This road/track goes over the Great Dividing Range and through the Salvator Rosa Section western side of the Carnarvon National Park.
Not long after this picture the tar seal ends, I see a car coming kicking up a lot of dust and decide to wait. The lady pulls up and says you know the road ahead is all dirt and theres lots of bulldust? Yep, no worries I reply. She looks at me in that disapproving School Mistress way and says Alright then in the tone I use when someone is going to do something stupid. Hmm, I cant be that bad.
Running heavy it was a bit of a challenge in places and poorly sign posted, but a rewarding ride. Things did get a bit interesting once in the Park, going down a steep grade there was a section of twisty deep bulldust single track that I thought would have me off the bike. Once again the Tiger just did the job.
Down the bottom a grader had recently cleaned up the track making viewing the scenery very pleasant.
Once on the Dawson Development Road, conditions quickly deteriorated. Im sure there must have/is warring families between Tambo and Springsure. There local council have made the road so bad in an effort to keep the families separated.
Got to a mates place at Springsure, had a few rums into the late hours.
From Windorah to Springsure, 696km. 47.2ltrs.