A ride along the old telegraph line to the border

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by "A", Sep 1, 2011.

  1. "A"

    "A" numbum

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    409
    Location:
    Albany Western Australia
    A RIDE ALONG THE OLD TELEGRAPH LINE TO THE BORDER


    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p>(Or “placing our jolly dreams on the seat of our motorcycles")*</o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>​
    <o:p>Note: for comments marked with an *, please refer to the appendix.</o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>​


    <o:p></o:p>​

    The Contenders<o:p></o:p>
    DR 650 This This renowned performer from the Japanese Suzuki stable should have no problems completing the 2000000 meter track. After a thorough preparation he is ready to ride in group company and after coming to notice as a stayer last campaign a top three placing is virtually assured. Although carrying top weight, maintaining a three-quarter pace and then quickening to complete the last 200000m, we should see some exciting riding. Jockey: Mr. Graeme McBeath<o:p></o:p>
    TE610 A A recent European import from the Husqvarna stable, this highly strung but promising youngster carries a proud tradition that owner, trainer and jockey Fred Powell is sure to exploit. He can get a bit revvy and fire up so it is hoped that the trip to Esperance in the float will help settle him down. Most of the jockeys expect TE610 to lead clearly although recent form indicates that though doing all the hard work in front a finish is something that requires a degree of luck. Nevertheless, this top-class juvenile is bound to provide an entertaining ride.<o:p></o:p>
    TT350 Not an overly big mare,TT350 was sourced from Japan by an unknown bloodstock agent. Current owner “A”, who usually runs heavier European stock, has found TT350 ably fulfills his brief for a quality stead with nimble handling. A proven wet-tracker and is going to get conditions to suit on the local W.A. coastal track. Though known to throw a shoe and tread on a nail, “A” will saddle up a consistent performer well suited to the variable track conditions of the Border Run Stakes. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Now for a bit of serious stuff: History. In 1877 the Inter-Colonial Telegraph Line linking Western Australia to the rest of the world was completed. This line traversed harsh and remote country that had only been crossed for the first time by early colonial explorers 37 years earlier. In 1840 Edward John Eyre, in the company of several men set off from Adelaide and after many difficulties reached Albany in July 1841. It was a significant journey involving many tribulations that crossed the Nullarbor Plain skirting the edge of the Great Australian Bight. For history buffs it is a story worth reading and plenty of information can be found on the internet- our Twenty-first century telegraph!<o:p></o:p>
    Being a bit of an explorer myself, I set out with my brother Fred and mate Graeme to follow some of this country on our trusty mechanical steeds. These came from the famous bloodlines of Yamaha, Suzuki and Husqvarna. Leaving Albany it was, as is expected at this time of the year, rain, rain and more rain. Arriving at our farm in Jerramungup, there was Fred still making his panniers from 20 liter plastic Jerry cans and attaching each with five Nylon cable ties. These and Silastic are the modern day farmers first choice for repairs being the replacement for wire that “old school cockies” of the 20<SUP>th</SUP> century would have used.<o:p></o:p>
    Eventually we get going and make Esperance for the night. Morning rain sees us donning the wet weather gear and riding out of town in an easterly direction. It eventually dissipates leaving a nice moist sand track out to Israelite Bay with puddles to add interest to the ride. The remains of the Telegraph station stand as a memorial to the hard work and isolation of our communications pioneers.
    Crusty Demons anticipating a good ride.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Old Israelite Telegraph Station
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    I’ve ridden the beach from Israelite Bay to the Baxter Cliffs on a number of previous occasions and it’s always been a bit of a hoot- hard, wide and fun. This time however the tide was up with the waves covering all the sand leaving little in the way of a beach to ride. There was no choice but to follow a winding track parallel to the coast and put up with the tough overhanging bushes that constantly pummel the handlebars, brake, clutch levers and panniers. Eventually the tide dropped enough and we followed the edge of the water ducking in-between seaweed mounds.
    Whale Bone
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    Off course we were flirting with danger with the beach becoming very soft and riding across the seaweed was courting disaster. On several occasions some dark lumps that initially presented as seaweed clumps rematerialized as seals that frantically flipped their way back into the ocean. As we travelled east the primary dunes became larger and it was found to be better to ride near their bases. This was a power sapping exercise and the TT350 was found a little wanting. The boys on their 650’s had enough grunt to get floating over the soft, rough surface and speed was their friend. Eventually it caught up with one of us and Graeme performed a handlebar flyover stunt as his front wheel buried itself axle deep in the sand.
    Whilst the front wheel cuts a furrow, the rear gets serious air time. Result: a nicely executed sumersault self scored as a 9.7.
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    We reached the magnificent Bilbunya dunes at the cusp of sunset so decided to make camp partway up the Wylie Scarp. Some four wheel drivers had left a broken folding table behind so I fixed it up with- you guessed it, cable ties! Luxury for a trio of crusty motorcyclists. The flat surface of the table proved conducive to the placement of a carton of port for the use of. Thank you Mr. Mcbeath.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Fine Dining
    [​IMG]
    Next morning Graeme and Fred rode back down to the beach for a look at the Baxter Cliffs whilst I remained and took a more leisurely approach to breaking camp. On their return we headed up the scarp and then followed the telegraph line in an easterly direction above the cliffs. The sandy conditions gave way to a clay and rock based surface. As it had rained recently we were wary of the skid demon that lurks in the grease mud sections. Though “going soothingly”(**), sure enough it eventually claimed a victim with the “Black Piglet” having a little lay down. Undaunted we carried on following the trail blazed by the early pioneers.
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p>Up the scarp we go</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p>Follow that line!</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p>Water can be found in dry times.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p>Overhanging bushes have no mercy on rider gear.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p>Into the tucker bag.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    Motorcycles propelled by the infernal consumption engine eventually need a drink so we took a 25km northerly diversion to the relative civilization of Caiguna roadhouse situated on the Eyre Highway. After 400km of riding the bikes had become noticeably lighter so the fresh fuel load made its presence felt as we retraced out tracks back to the old telegraph line. It was in the vicinity of Baxter’s memorial that we eventually called it a day and decided to set up camp for the night. Baxter was a companion of Eyre on his expedition but was murdered by two aboriginals in the group who then departed. This left Eyre with only one companion, the faithful Wylie to complete the journey with.
    Our second camp site.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p>It rained overnight so wet tents were rolled up prior to departing. The trees glistened in the morning sun as we followed a now less used telegraph track towards our eventual destination- the South Australia, West Australia border. Only a few of the old timber telegraph poles remain standing so we took the opportunity to stop for a photograph under one. There have been times in the past when I haven’t stopped for photos and later regretted it because those opportunities didn’t appear again. Motorcycling and photography have an uneasy relationship as they seem mutually exclusive when the imperative for me is inevitably to make time.
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    Eventually the cliffs we had been keeping to the north of turned away from the ocean and headed inland forming a scarp. This meant that once again there would be a beach to ride on. However getting to it was still a matter of quite a few kilometers and these weren’t all easy with some gnarly semi dune country to negotiate and plenty of vegetation to knock the handlebars about.
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    After some time we came upon an intersection with a relatively well used track heading from the highway down to the beach. We elected to ignore it and carry on following the old telegraph line down the scarp. The track deteriorated to the stage where it would be no longer passable by a 4wd due to overhanging trees and erosion forming a virtual tunnel for us to ride in. Half way along Fred narrowly avoided “entanglement of bird with wheel spokes” (***), a Mallee Hen busily constructing a new nest. These are huge 2-3m diameter structures scratched into the ground incorporating large amounts of vegetative matter used for incubating the eggs as it “composts”.
    The nest.
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    Once on the beach we continued in an easterly direction being pushed along by a westerly squall until the Eyre Bird Observatory was reached. Its position was marked by the presence of a well beached fishing boat. The bird observatory is a restored telegraph station and has a small museum and interesting collection of marine skeletons. The manager was pleased with our Mallee Hen nest discovery as it was a new find to add to his list of seven active sites.
    [​IMG]
    Some weary old bones.
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    After lunch we decided to continue along the beach but our progress was impeded by large piles of seaweed. We rode around on a large sand dune and tried to find the old telegraph line again which is some 300 meters inland. Eventually we found it but the track was completely overgrown and impassable. In places the dune had moved further inland and covered the line. There was no other option but to head back to the observatory and then inland on their service track back towards Cocklebiddy. Part way along this track we turned right and rode below the scarp on a nice firm and gently winding path through the scrub. It was fun but as always, all good things come at a cost. In this case a flat rear tyre on the TT350. I was wondering why the other bikes were gradually getting away from me, there I was thinking my skill set had deserted me! Anyway, it was time to call it stumps for the day so the repair site also became our campsite.
    [​IMG]
    We found the wire again!
    [​IMG]
    Camp and tube replacement site.
    [​IMG]

    APPENDIX<o:p></o:p>
    Honda Safety Rules
    Taken from a 1962, Honda Motor Cycle Owner's Manual. Translated by Honda
    for the "American Motorcycle Rider"

    "If you read this manual fully you will be able to place your jolly dream on the seat of your motorcycle and have a good ride”.

    1. At the rise of the hand by Policeman, stop rapidly. Do not pass him by or otherwise disrespect him.

    2. When a passenger of the foot, hooves in sight, tootel the horn trumpet
    melodiously at first. If he still obstacles your passage, tootel him with
    vigor and express by word of mouth, warning Hi, Hi.

    3. Beware of the wandering horse that he shall not take fright as you pass
    him. Do not explode the exhaust box at him. Go soothingly by.

    4. Give big space to the festive dog that makes sport in roadway. Avoid
    entanglement of dog with wheel spokes.

    5. Go soothingly on the grease mud, as there lurks the skid demon! Press
    the brake foot as you roll around the corners, and save the collapse and
    tie up.


    To be continued...
    <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    </o:p>
    #1
  2. BOOTLACE

    BOOTLACE Bikie Scum.

    Joined:
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    Onya Andreas! :D
    #2
  3. gsd4me

    gsd4me 90% bluff

    Joined:
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    Brisbane, Australia
    Yeah, that bloody grease mud has always been a problem for me.....:lol3
    #3
  4. "A"

    "A" numbum

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    409
    Location:
    Albany Western Australia
    The welcoming rays of the next morning’s sunrise unfortunately revealed a flat rear tyre on the TT350. To say that I was annoyed at my incompetence in pinching the tube when putting it in the previous evening would be an understatement. Unleashing a few swear words makes a bloke feel better for sure and in this case they proved effective. After repairing the tube the long and winding road beckoned us once more to head east.
    The long and winding road.
    [​IMG]<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    A good bit of riding saw us once again on the coast and reaching Red Rocks Point, but not before a Kamikaze roo launched itself into Fred’s Husky. It left a bit of blood as a calling card but both marsupial and Husky pilot escaped relatively unscathed. I questioned Fred as to wether he had “exploded the exhaust box at him” (****). The coastal track from the point to the border was a beauty winding in amongst dunes then across Samphire clay flats and so on. I was enjoying the ride until stopping and just about falling over when putting my feet down. The surface was slippery! Ignorance is bliss as they say. So it was from then on, a case of again “go soothingly on the grease mud, for there lurks the skid demon”.
    Navigation equipment can't get you around a roo.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    The sun had set by the time we reached the Western Australia/ South Australia border at Border Village, back on the Eyre Highway. We had made it to the half way point with very little bitumen being traversed and only a few wayward marsupials to contend with. At the border there were many other motorcyclists who had ridden to the same venue from the western or eastern parts of the continent. These silly buggers then intended to turn around and head back in the direction from hence they had come. We partook of beers with them and later, across the road around a campfire, a friendly fellow by the name of Harry forced us to commit cerebral damage by offering to fill our stubbies with some port flavored nectar that issued forth from a five liter plastic Jerrycan!
    Remnants from a pre-multicultural Australia struggle with 21st century technology.
    [​IMG]
    ‘Twas a late start the next day, but no matter, we were now heading back to the west and the sun was also going in the same direction. In keeping with our theme of avoiding paved surfaces, or indeed the “raising of the hand by a Policeman” (*****), we turned north at Eucla and followed an old coach road to Madura. Its notable features were the large holes near the track and tall grass in places making it almost invisible. We camped in the vicinity of Madura before once again joining the road trains and caravans travelling along the Eyre Highway.
    Not a good campsite.
    [​IMG]
    Mc found some wire.
    [​IMG]
    "Little Madura Pass"
    [​IMG]
    Here we go again.
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    The repaired tube on the TT350 eventually failed enroute to Balladonia so it was time for some more lever work on the road side. Riding motorcycles in the bush is a good way to develop hands that make it look like you’re a “working man”! Arriving at Balladonia it was almost time to camp, but after some discussion we decided to head south on a bit more dirt. This was an arse puckering traverse as the old skid demon was once again on the lurk. We pulled up at dusk at an old stone station building. It had been tidied up a bit by the owners and visitors welcome to stay. After a day of cool and sometimes wet riding it was a pleasure to crank up the open fireplace and enjoy the luxury of the great indoors.
    [​IMG]
    Nice little still life arrangements.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Another old station building on the way back. Plastic Jerrycan panniers worked well.
    [​IMG]
    The last bit of dirt.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    This is probably the last time I'll use these panniers. They are not tough enough to handle the type of country I often ride through.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    The final day was uneventful as we continued on our way home to our respective abodes via the south coast town of Esperance. All in all an excellent bit of riding, jockeys and sickles all intact, with only a few flesh wounds and minor bruising as evidence to show our loved ones. In effect we were able to “place our jolly dream on the seat of our motorcycles and have a good ride”.<o:p></o:p>

    THE END<o:p></o:p>

    APPENDIX<o:p></o:p>
    Honda Safety Rules
    Taken from a 1962, Honda Motor Cycle Owner's Manual. Translated by Honda
    for the "American Motorcycle Rider"

    "If you read this manual fully you will be able to place your jolly dream on the seat of your motorcycle and have a good ride”.

    1. At the rise of the hand by Policeman, stop rapidly. Do not pass him by or otherwise disrespect him.

    2. When a passenger of the foot, hooves in sight, tootel the horn trumpet
    melodiously at first. If he still obstacles your passage, tootel him with
    vigor and express by word of mouth, warning Hi, Hi.

    3. Beware of the wandering horse that he shall not take fright as you pass
    him. Do not explode the exhaust box at him. Go soothingly by.

    4. Give big space to the festive dog that makes sport in roadway. Avoid
    entanglement of dog with wheel spokes.

    5. Go soothingly on the grease mud, as there lurks the skid demon! Press
    the brake foot as you roll around the corners, and save the collapse and
    tie up.

    <o:p></o:p>
    #4
  5. "A"

    "A" numbum

    Joined:
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    409
    Location:
    Albany Western Australia
  6. Sundowner

    Sundowner Bort

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    Good stuff, "A". This is a track I've been eying off on maps for ages. The beach sections sound like a bit of a worry for a heavier touring bike. Were there many escape or detour tracks around the difficult bits, to allow options to keep moving forwards? Would love to see more photo's of the sand dune sections. :clap:clap:clap
    #6
  7. jtb

    jtb Long timer

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    Good work, looks like a great ride. Thanks for sharing a unique part of AUS I don't think I'll see by bike. :clap:clap
    #7
  8. goroka

    goroka Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Sunshine Coast, Qld, Australia
    Good read. Thanks.
    #8
  9. Muddler

    Muddler Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    884
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    Dardanup, Western Australia
    Great RR, thanks for sharing.
    Do you miss the XC? I'm thinking of trading mine in, but not sure if I might regret it.
    #9
  10. Eaglebeak

    Eaglebeak All roads rider, West Oz.

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    Perth.
    Perfect timing A.

    My last night on here for a while and I get to read one of your reports !

    I'm off tomorrow morning, heading for the Dargo Rally and then Tassie for 9 days. Taking my R1150R so not as much dirt as you guys regularly do.

    regards
    Andrew
    #10
  11. "A"

    "A" numbum

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Have been out there several times previously on 800 and 1000cc twins. Wouldn't take anything heavier and you need to be confident that you can handle these machines in dodgy sand.
    Their are a few escape routes on the big beach east of Israelite bay but some could be difficult to find- gps, google images would help. The best thing is to get the tidal info. Several 4wd vehicles have been lost on these beaches because sand washes over the seaweed hiding the hazard below.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    not neccessary to ride these dunes:D

    [​IMG]
    #11
  12. 59DEN

    59DEN Long timer

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    Thanks for your great RR, had the living daylights scared out of me a couple of times, when going close to those "lumps of seaweed" only for them to rear up as you go past.
    I am adopting the sage advice, "Go soothingly on the grease mud, as there lurks the skid demon!", thanks for the laughs.:D
    #12
  13. "A"

    "A" numbum

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
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    Albany Western Australia
    Cheers. I still have it. You will not find a better 650cc class single cylinder engine for adv riding. My brother had a DR 650 and then bought the Husky. He wishes he had my 650 X engine in his TE610 because its got GRUNT. But those 610's are nice to ride. Fred isn't impressed with the KTM 690 as an adv bike.
    #13
  14. philth

    philth www.motorbikin.com.au

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    good stuff!
    #14
  15. pugsley

    pugsley Little Man

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    wollongong South Coast NSW Australia
    Looks like a terrific trip!
    #15
  16. markwrich1

    markwrich1 Going South

    Joined:
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    Albany WA 400km to the nearest traffic lights
    Saw Graeme down at Cosi's and he told me about this ride but excellent to see it in photographic form. We did that Israelite track in April. There weren't any skid demons but the sand was exceedingly deep and soft on the track into Israelite and I had a few lie downs.
    I'd be interested in the gps record of the track you used to get to the border if it's available

    Mark Rich

    A - I met you on a ride out to that Denmark brewery with John McK, we went via Redmond Forest and there was plenty of the skid demon that day !! :lol3:lol3:lol3
    #16
  17. Sundowner

    Sundowner Bort

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    [QUOTE="A";16768102] Several 4wd vehicles have been lost on these beaches because sand washes over the seaweed hiding the hazard below.
    [/QUOTE]

    That's quite a sneaky trick. How deep to these seaweed pits get? Have you ever dropped into one?
    #17
  18. 59DEN

    59DEN Long timer

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    Hi "A", what vintage are the last pic's of the twin's, thanks for taking the time to do your RR, especially the CSR.
    Attached is a GPX of those tracks off the beach that you were talking about, any chance of a few more pic's and stories from some of your earlier rides.
    Thanks

    Attached Files:

    #18
  19. aldntn

    aldntn Vgo

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    Nashville TN
    Great Ride! Thanks for sharing!
    #19
  20. Wolfgang55

    Wolfgang55 Long timer

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    Truly a First Class RR. PIX leave me wanting more & your writing telling me why.

    Glad this great RR ended w/ no serious injuries or bike damage. Your group seem very compatible together & on their selected scoots.
    About how much fuel was carried on each bike? If I missed this in the beginning am sorry, but just could not wait to get started.

    Is this ride open to anyone in the area or must a permit/toll be had/

    Would a knobbied Ural do well on this trip?

    Again good job all the way around & most thanks for the editing time to pull it all together for us.
    #20