A few days wandering South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula and Upper Coorong (cut short..)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by bull600, Dec 1, 2016.

  1. bull600

    bull600 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    498
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    A month or so ago I spend a few days exploring the state’s mid north after exceptional rains had caused flooding through much of the area (see here for a RR of that trip). As luck would have it, the chance came up for another short trip away, so this time I decided to venture south from Adelaide and spend some time checking out the Fleurieu Peninsula and then venture over to the Coorong.

    With the Fleurieu Peninsula in such close proximity to Adelaide, finding those out of the way roads and tracks would be more difficult and, as is sometimes the way, the trip was cut short (more of that later..) but the final route looked like this:

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    This time I had mate along for the ride. A recent convert to ADV riding, Pat started his career not too long ago on a mighty Super Sherpa.

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    As his confidence rose he decided that he’d join the DR650 club and purchasing a nice low kilometre bike that he has been slowly getting sorted. With the recent fitting of a new Acrebis tank, this trip would be the first where he was fully set up.

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    With the foothills at my door step I headed up Anstey’s Hill to start the trip on a nice cool, late spring morning

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    Once past Paracombe it was steeply down Torrens Hill Rd that leads to the twisty iconic Gorge Rd, which follows the Torrens River

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    Past Cuddle Creek, home of the popular bike friendly Café

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    My rendezvous point with Pat was in the hills town of Echunga, so I bid farewell to Gorge Rd and headed up past the apple growing hamlet of Lenswood

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    Before I popped out at the German themed town of Hahndorf

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    It was then just a short hop over to the Leopard Tank Memorial at Echunga

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    Where I met up with Pat

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    Our first taste of the dirt came just out of Echunga where we picked up Hack Range Rd

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    With so much of the peninsula now cleared it is a great little run through a native vegetation corridor

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    With some nice views out over the nearby hills

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    Then it was on to some less travelled tracks between farms

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    Before we picked up the Old Bull Creek Rd

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    Some of the firetracks that run through the area provide some great riding

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    With the occasional water crossing

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    Soon we found ourselves at Ashbourne, where the Greenman Inn puts on a good feed

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    But it was still early so we crossed the main road and headed up the hill on the other side

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    Now this particular road (which technically may have been closed :wink:) has a fairly steep initial climb and Pat found himself stuck between two ruts as he ventured up

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    After waiting a while for him further up I came back down to check on his progress and then as I turned around again to head up I lost my footing and..

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    As it was perched on an angle Pat came down to give me a hand in getting it up, after first having to lay his bike down

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    With the two pigs up and running again we were keen to get moving as things quickly heated up when walking up and down hills and lifting up bikes!!

    A short squirt of bitumen soon had us cooling down

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    It was then on up through the Cut Rd

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    And then on to Mt Compass,

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    One of the Fleurieu Peninsula’s trademarks is that it's the home to many of the state’s dairy farms so it’s no surprise that Mt Compass lays claim to fame for Australia’s only annual cow race, the ‘Compass Cup’ (photo: Ryan Finlay - Victor Harbor Times)

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    As we continued south we skirted through a Mount Billy and Spring Mount Conservation Parks

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    Before picking up James Track

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    Where the locals were enjoying the lush countryside

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    Our route now took us west towards the coast, firstly dropping down to Myponga

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    A small town that sits on the edge of the Myponga Reservoir

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    Then it wasn’t long before the Gulf St Vincent came into view

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    From the top of the range we dropped down to Myponga Beach

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    Where a cluster of holiday homes surround a small beach close to the mouth of the Myponga River

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    We then headed on a little scenic loop towards Yankalilla.

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    Dodging graders on the way (that had just smoothed out what was once a nice gnarly little road)

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    Before heading down towards our lunch spot

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    A bakery of course :wink::wink: (Which is arguably the best on the peninsula!)

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    After absorbing our sugar hit we followed the main coast road south past Lady Bay

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    Before we stopped at the HMS Hobart memorial

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    Here one of the anchors from the 134mt guided missile destroyer points to the location of its final resting place 9km off shore, where it now lies in 30mt of water as a dive site.

    Due to the steep bluffs along this section of coastline access to the water is restricted to only a couple of spots. One of these is

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    Where a small beach

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    and jetty, that is popular for fishing and scuba diving, are found

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    It’s a historic part of the coast

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    The next bay south is Rapid Bay

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    Where BHP built a limestone quarry and ore loading jetty back in the 1940’s. The T shaped jetty, which is almost 500mt long, was for many years the premium shore based fishing and dive site within the state. After the mining operations ceased in the 1990’s the jetty slowly fell into disrepair and was progressively closed

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    After its closure and due to a massive public outcry the government built a new concrete jetty adjacent to the old one. There’s even a underwater path for divers to follow to the old jetty :lol3

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    The bay has a popular unpowered campground ($7 a night), with free BBQ’s and cold outside showers

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    With great views along the coast

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    After a stroll along the new jetty we pushed on and headed over to the northern edge of the Deep Creek Conservation Park

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    There are a number of camp grounds dotted throughout the park

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    An online entrance fee is required just to enter the park and have a look around, so I on principle we kept moving on towards Parawa

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    What was remarkable was that it wasn’t raining, as every other time I think I’ve been there it’s been drizzling, which is not surprising as it has almost double the annual rainfall of Adelaide.

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    Once past Parawa it was time to start thinking about a campsite as the countryside opened up once more.

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    Stealth camping on the peninsula is not an easy task with few options due to intensive farming and highly regulated Government Parks. Still, we’ve spent a fair bit of time over the years riding through much of the area so I had a few ideas :wink::wink:

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    This looked more promising..

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    Even better

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    Just the ticket

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    Amongst the trees and green grass, a perfect spot

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    Ideal for sitting back with a few beers and soaking up the late afternoon sun :rofl:rofl

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    With some nice steak on the menu

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    Cooking was soon under way

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    Before we cranked the fire up and finished off our beer quota :photog

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    #1
    Bombsatb, Shivanshu, klrhino and 4 others like this.
  2. bull600

    bull600 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    498
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    Day 2

    The next morning the sun rose on another fantastic looking day

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    The plan for today was to head across to the southern side of the peninsula before looping around the lakes that surround the mouth of the Murray River.

    Soon the bikes were packed up

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    And we hit the tracks again

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    Before stopping to check out the morning views

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    Soon we turned off onto Mt Robinson Rd

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    That cuts through a section of the Second Valley Forest Reserve

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    It was along this road a few years ago that I rounded a bend to see an enormous buck Fallow Deer standing in the middle of the road. It took one look at me and then bounded over the fence in one giant leap!

    This road pops out on Range Rd. From there we then took the Waitpinga Rd a few kms further along that took us down to the coast

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    This area is part of the Newland Head Conservation Park

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    And they allow you to enter free of charge! (it’s $20 a night per vehicle to camp – not sure it that’s per motorbike!!)

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    Waitpinga Beach is the drawcard for this area.

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    It’s a rough surf beach that faces the Southern Ocean and is popular for surfers and shore fishing

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    After wandering around for a while we headed off and it wasn’t long before we came to a great view of the largest town on the peninsula - Victor Harbor

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    How’s the serenity?

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    This pretty town is the retirement capital of South Australia (fondly referred to as God’s waiting room), which makes for some interesting interactions during the annual ‘Scoolies Festival that was being set up in the main square.

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    With exams completed over 10,000 recent school leavers descend on the town every year at this time for 2 days of heavy party time!

    Two main attractions at Victor are Granite Island, which is connected to the mainland via a 600mt causeway

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    If you’re too lazy to walk there’s a historic horse drawn tram that runs across

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    The island was once a thriving tourist location with a restaurant and café as well as a large population of fairy penguins. However, a decline in the penguin numbers numbers and a lack of tourism planning has led to its decline.

    The other place worth a visit is Rosetta Head, more commonly known as “The Bluff”. This headland stands at the south western end of Encounter Bay and rises 100mt above the bay.

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    It was once used as a lookout for Southern Right Whales that frequent the area, with a whaling station previously at the foot of the Bluff. The climb to the top is well worth the effort with great views back towards Victor, especially at dusk or dawn (photo taken at sunrise on previous visit)

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    On the other side of the bluff looking west is Petrel Cove, a notorious beach which has claimed a the lives of a number of unsuspecting swimmers

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    With Victor soon behind us we headed north along Crow’s Nest Rd

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    where a lookout with great views to the east is located.

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    From there we headed over Mosquito Hill

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    and onto Kokoda Rd where someone decided the road verge would be a good place to leave an old caravan :eek7

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    We then skirted Scott’s Conservation Park and passed rolling fields

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    On our way across to the large lakes that surround the mouth of the River Murray. The first and largest of these is Lake Alexandrina. We rode around Clayton Bay

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    This forms part of the lake that is opposite to Hindmarsh Island

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    It was then on past the lakeside town of Milang

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    before we veered away from the lake and headed north along some nice tracks

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    Much of this area was flooded a month or so before and the undergrowth was very thick in places

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    Soon we saw signs of water by the track

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    And then eventually the mud started

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    With lunch at the pub foremost on our minds we decided to bypass the bog holes and looped back to Langhorne Creek and the Bridge Hotel. There were even a group of mid week bikers there :thumb

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    They always put on a good meal here :clap:clap

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    From Langhorne Creek it was then 30kms (into a blasting head wind) to the Murray River at Wellington, where we refuelled and grabbed some beers from the pub.

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    With no tap water in the town the publican kindly filled up by Camelbak from the bar and we headed off on the ferry to cross to the other side of the river

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    Our plan was to travel the upper Coorong, a section of saline lagoon that stretches east along the edge of the coast. This meant turning off the Princes Highway 20km south of Wellington and heading towards Narrung

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    This road follows Lake Alexandrina once more

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    Before a small cable ferry crosses the water at a point where Lake Albert flows into Lake Alexandrina

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    These wide lakes are prone to strong winds and navigation was an issue in the era of busy river trading. As a result Australia’s only inland lighthouse was built at Point Malcolm, which is quite close to the ferry landing

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    Once over the ferry we headed south to the edge of the North Coorong, where the high sand hills of the narrow Younghusband Peninsula could be seen across the other side of the lagoon

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    This windswept area is home to hardy group of professional fishermen (one of which could do with fixing their leaking boat :eekers)

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    It was then into the Coorong National Park and onto a 4x4 track that runs along the edge of the lagoon

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    It was 4x4 due to the sand, which Pat soon found

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    But he soon found his rhythm

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    As we passed a number of small campsites and remnants of the area as a sheep property

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    After successfully negotiating the sand we reached the Long Point Rd and turned in to have a quick look. With Pat slightly ahead I noticed him pull up quite suddenly soon after making the turn. I stopped next to him and asked what was up and he said that he’d heard a noise and the bike had locked up. On closer inspection I saw a small amount of oil and then this

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    :eekers:eekers:eekers:eekers:eekers:eekers oh dear. I got down on my knees and then had a closer look

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    And finally from the other side all was revealed

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    Yep, that’s a fist sized hole in the case with half of what looks like a busted third gear hanging out. At this point Pat needed a drink – and he only had water :cry:cry

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    So now it seemed that the quite well documented DR650 third gear grenade now had another victim..

    Luckily, we had one bar of phone reception so I made a few calls and our DR riding mate Russell came to the rescue, volunteered to wangle some time off work and come down the next morning to pick up Pat and his bike. We managed to push the bike down the road and set up camp on the edge of the Coorong not far away.

    It was then just a matter of drowning our sorrows for the rest of the night.. (our faces tell the story)

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    At least it was a nice sunset

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    Day 3

    Russell was due to leave town pretty early the next morning but to our surprise we were still in the tents when he rocked up at 7:30am (he left at 5am). Within half an hour we had Pat’s stuff packed up and the wounded DR on the trailer ready for their trip home.

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    We had decided to just put one bike on the trailer to speed things up so once the guys had gone I was left to ponder what to do for the rest of the trip. I decided to head back home but via a route that would be a little more scenic than the main drag.

    Luckily, the wind had dropped from the previous night and it was a cracker of a morning

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    With mozzies now out in full force I ate some breakfast (with a shirt over my head) and then packed up camp and headed out of the park

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    I swung around the southern edge of Lake Albert

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    Before passing through the small town of Meningie, where the local cows took an interest in my passing

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    I then headed east out along the McIntosh Way. The aim was to follow the back roads north until I met the Murray River again near Bowhill. The roads were a mixture, some straight and fast

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    While others were more idyllic and ran between farms

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    And some were just tracks through the mallee

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    Eventually I popped out on the Mannum to Bowhill Rd and decided to take East Front Rd that runs along the edge of the river. The view down to Teal Flat showed the river in all its glory

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    With flows expected to peak at 100 GL/day in the next few weeks (the highest since the drought broke back in 2010-11) this area of shacks will be prone to some minor flooding.

    It’s a certainly great to see the river in such good condition

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    The run along East Front Rd is always pleasant, with lots of gentle bends that sweep alongside the edge of the water

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    It passes by a number of shacks and the small settlement at Younghusband

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    Before it abruptly stops

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    The last section has been permanently closed since 2010 when drought conditions caused large cracks and then cavities to appear in and under the road. Luckily, a short detour up the hill on Baker’s Hut Rd brings you back to the main road near the Mannum ferry. In fact, Mannum has two ferries to cope with demand

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    One of the best bakeries on the river is at Mannum

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    so a short stop was called for to devour one of their famous Kitchener buns. For those uninitiated amongst you this is a particularly iconic ‘South Australian’ delight

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    From Mannum I headed back via Long Gully Rd

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    And then crossed part of the range through Gap Rd

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    Before heading over Borthwick Brae Rd

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    There are a couple of gates to pass

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    And Big Brother may be watching from behind

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    A closer look

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    Soon I was back on the bitumen, and heading towards Birdwood

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    Home to the Blumberg Pub

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    And the national Motor Museum (well worth a look)

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    From there I took Winton Rd

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    Another iconic run past towering gums

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    And vineyards that overlook Checker Hill

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    This hill was the site of much carnage during the 2015 Sampson Flat fire

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    Then, just as I made my way back to home territory, a detour was necessary

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    Before I finally made my way home along a road that hit a chord

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    After what happened with his bike I’m sure it’s something Pat will need as he gets his DR back up and running!

    Until next time :thumb
    #2
  3. 1coolbanana

    1coolbanana Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,115
    Location:
    NW Sydney, Australia
    Nice report, great pics, shame about third gear :(
    #3
  4. ozzyal

    ozzyal Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2012
    Oddometer:
    99
    Location:
    waranga basin vic
    Great write up and photography mate . thanks for taking the time to put it up .
    #4
  5. TerryK

    TerryK Ulysses

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,915
    Location:
    adelaide South Australia
    Good read mate, gee I know a lot of those roads

    Cheers Terry
    #5
  6. kezzajohnson

    kezzajohnson kezza

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,949
    Location:
    Cairns - Queensland Australia
    Yeah. Excellent story and well done with the photography. You really know your way around a camera. Sorry about your mates bike. Hope it's not as bad as it looks -please keep us posted on what the issue is.
    #6
  7. kipo

    kipo South Australian Tiger Resistance Group

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,805
    Location:
    Port Augusta
    Great report and fantastic photos. That DR looks expensive to fix!
    #7
  8. Laconic

    Laconic Cognitively Privileged

    Joined:
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    Location:
    In a Gilded Cage
    Beautiful scenery down there!
    #8
  9. micko01

    micko01 another DR650 rider

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Oddometer:
    557
    Location:
    RTW, currently Argentina
    Thats actually 2nd driven gear thats saying hello to the world, not 3rd. What gear was he in when it died?
    #9
    bull600 likes this.
  10. bikeroz

    bikeroz Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,644
    Location:
    Sydney Lower North Shore
    So with your photo sent to a remote computer, did you win a prize?
    Awesome pics & roads you chose.
    #10
  11. Crofty

    Crofty Life's a Garden, DIG IT!

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2008
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    Location:
    Launceston, TAS
    Great report! Bugger about your mates bike though.
    #11
  12. bull600

    bull600 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    498
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    mmmm........ that's interesting. I just assumed it was the result of the known 3rd gear issue. I'll check out the details
    #12
  13. CA Stu

    CA Stu Master of air potatofication Super Moderator

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Riverside, CA
    Great report, thanks for posting! :thumb
    #13
  14. TheDecepticon

    TheDecepticon Wannabe

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    483
    Location:
    Adelaide, South Australia
    Excellent Bull, well written and photographed. Dying to give one of your gpx tracks a go and this one looks like a cracker also. I too am interested in the info regarding the demise of Pat's DR. 2006 K6 model is it?

    Cheers! :clap
    #14
  15. dunc

    dunc coddiwompler

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,310
    Location:
    NSW
    thanks for the write up and pics

    bummer of your mates bike
    #15
  16. Valleyam

    Valleyam South Australian Tiger resistance group

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2011
    Oddometer:
    493
    Location:
    Angaston, Barossa Valley, South Australia.
    Great report Bull, What was the go with the cc camera? were you somewhere you shouldn't have been or are they just keeping tabs on who uses the track?
    #16
    bull600 likes this.
  17. TwoUpTourer

    TwoUpTourer Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    593
    Location:
    South Australia
    Excellent write up Bull600!
    What i'd like to know is how you go about the planning of these trips. It seems clear that its not just random wandering, else you'd end up someone's driveway, so what mapping resource are you using to distinguish those tracks that are unformed gazetted public roads? And do you plan it out on Google maps first and pre-load into your GPS, or onto paper?
    cheers
    John
    #17
  18. Rumbleguts

    Rumbleguts Methane producer

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    Adelaide SA
    Great pics and RR.
    #18
  19. Catz

    Catz Been here awhile

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    Jul 26, 2014
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    Vic
    Thanks for taking me down memory lane, excellent photos and great report,
    #19
  20. DOD

    DOD idiot dirt rider

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    Aug 1, 2005
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    Location:
    Phoenix
    I enjoyed that. Thanks!

    -dod
    #20
    burrenman likes this.