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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Sundowner, Aug 29, 2011.
Good one Sundowner
Next day it truly feels great to be rolling again. I had the tent dry and camp packed by about 9am, despite the threatening dark clouds scooting in from the west. My only concern was to find somewhere with rain water to refill my near empty camelback once again. After about 40 kilometres riding towards the Border Track, I was down to only a couple of farm properties before there'd be a stretch with nothing available. It wasn't what I wanted to do but stopping to check my GPS for water options just near a farm drive, I found my rear tyre deflating quickly yet again. I knew I'd need water to drink if I was going to peel the rear tube out again so I made my way to the farmhouse to see if they'd let me fill the camelback. What ended up happening was that I met Gary and his two motorbike riding sons who insisted on helping me fix the puncture over in their huge shearing shed workshop. It was starting to rain again, so it was too good an offer to refuse. When we got the tube out, I was disappointed to find my previous decent patches had failed to hold. All three peeled off fairly easily. The old rubber glue had simply failed to vulcanise the patches onto the properly scoured up, prepared tube. So while it absolutely poured down, three really good, big, round patches were applied, tested and everything thrown back together - two over the previous holes and one over a tiny pinprick sized hole caused by the tube being stressed by running flat again. The tube was now covered in dozens of fine craters, but only the one showed signs of green Slime puncture seal goo oozing from it. All fixed up, I grabbed a few photos (for the farmers who may be interested in an Oz grain/grazing property), before saying goodbyes and rolling again out into the fresh mud, east once again with a 3litre bladder of fresh rainwater included. Really great folk - a true pleasure to meet.
The grain/seed silos.
Beaut workshop with eveything you could need, including a fixed touring bike.
A four stand shearing board, well organised with holding pens and release chutes just behind each shearing station, raised high to make fleece collection at chest height. A great setup.
The lads warned me about the road ahead. They said they liked to avoid it as it was pretty rough and slippery. I didn't have paddocks to be able to travel across, so my options were limited.
Really great fun, thanks to a neighbouring grazier stuffing the road up with a stock transport truck - it slid and churned past me as I unstrapped the tank panniers once more, ready for another likely crash.
For once, the front Dunlop D606 actually worked really well, helping to keep me upright and pointed in the right direction all the way to the Border.
A photo of a rare and elusive fully inflated rear tyre, in its natural habitat.
It did make me wonder why I was entering Victoria, but then again this last section of South Australia hadn't been too sunny all morning.
Onto the Border Track that runs north and south for several hundred kilometres.
You can see I'm thrilled to be riding in the pouring rain. Strangely, all thoughts of getting nekkid and soaped up are completely gone.
Finally reaching the end of the dirt, I meet an old farmer out checking his stock. It's too wet for him to want to open and close six paddock gates in the rain so he's taking the "scenic" bitumen route when we bump into each other. I'd stopped to get off and kiss the bitumen covered road when his arrived spoilt those plans. We talk farming and stock prices. He's hoping tomorrows stock auction will exceed $176 a head for his fat lambs.
He tells me the road I've just travelled use to be slick clay until they topped it with the red sand. That'd explain the high speed sideways moments I'd been experiencing and my joy at reaching sealed road. It also explains the red road in an area where all roads are normally a whitish-grey. Another enjoyable conversation over, we part ways.
The road to <strike>Nowhere</strike>...<strike>Hell</strike>...Nhill...rougher than the Oodnadatta Track. Victorians have the worst roads in the country. The change is really obvious, even coming off a dirt road. The potholes, bumps, ruts and corregations seem to get sealed under the Victorian bitumen, probably to keep the freshness in.
Nhill, is all it's glory. The sign suggesting a U-turn to Adelaide was strongly considered after 4 solid hours of riding in the constant rain. I decide to stop for some comfort food, nice hot bbq'd chicken and chips.
The flag at half mast due to a local plane crash the night before.
I eventually continue back out into the rain, heated grips on high for the next 80 kilometres to Horsham on the Western Highway, dodging interstate trucks and cars for the first real time all trip. In Horsham, I find a supermarket for some basic supplies then head to the Showgrounds after dark to shelter from the rain under an old livestock display shed. Other than a used syringe and condom nearby, it turns out to be a great spot. I don't sleep too soundly though, in case the owners return. (next photos taken the following morning).
My shelter is the small shed structure with the dark opening, to the right of the larger buildings.
Room with a view, of the greyhound racing track and clubhouse.
Other than the fore-mentioned items, broken glass, cigarette butts, old hay and huge quantities of possum shit, it was really nice in a drafty dungeon sort of way. But it kept me dry from the thunderstorm that raged all night. All for a good cause - I needed a spare tube from the motorcycle shop across the road because my rear tyre went flat again between the supermarket and the fuel station earlier. Pumped up to 40psi, it actually holds for the next few days.
Good ride report Sundowner & some great photos in there too, well done mate..
Hey thats me!!
bummer i missed you, but it sounds like you have a few reasonable excusses... that Ngarkat is a wonderful but frustrating but beautiful place, and your spot on when you say...
ah Ngarkat... i remember her well..
shame you missed the ceremony in Kieth, i think you would have liked it..
hey great pics by the way...expecially in the intro post...blew me away...
cant believe you havent thrown that out yet.... i think you're the only one in South Australia who would give 'that' glue another chance....
Not anymore I won't! Bought a new kit in Horsham. Although I still haven't thrown the old stuff away yet. But I'm going to. Same glue batch that we had trouble with that Mallee ride we did - cheap Chinese crap.
And thanks for the excellent photo of Andy's family and last race bike. Really appreciate you including them here.
Great photo of your Ngarkat experience as well.
The day starts watching the local birdlife gather a feed from the flooded grounds nearby while I finish off last nights dinner of crackers and dip from the supermarket. The nearby Wimmera River attracts early morning walkers and joggers.
The river is just behind the trees.
A Red-rumped Parrot.
Black-tailed Native Hens.
Crested Pigeons (also called Topknot Pigeons)
Purple Swamp Hens...
with their comedic walk, my favourite river bird. Their broad feet are perfect for walking on water lillies, mud flats and through aquatic plants.
After buying a new 17inch rear tube at the local Harley/Suzuki dealer, I go on a mission to the three other bike shops in Horsham, trying to find a new rear Mitas E09 Dakar to trade the DeathWing and some cash for. I can't even find any type of 17inch dual-sport tyre "We don't get any bikes that need those around here." "What, like mine?" It's only a major rural centre on a major Australian travel route. Shame I wasn't riding an 18inch motocrosser, because that's all every one of them catered for, other than normal road bike tyres.
Giving up and glad I still had the Bridgestone to fall back on, even though it's a pain in the arse to carry, I head to the local Primary Industries government office, to obtain my Victorian Miner's Right.
While the counter worker fills out the paperwork, I take a couple of photos of the Bearded Dragon in his display tank. He's about fifteen inches long and really active.
The name coming from the spiny "beard" that even goes underneath his face. They're actually a really soft, easy to handle lizard that loves to flatten out as wide as possible when feeling threatened. They also love to climb and can often be seen on fence posts out bush.
They make great pets and feed happily on cockroaches and insects, including flies, which is a good thing in Australia.
Wandering back to the counter to collect my Miner's Right, I blurt out to the lady, "Your Bearded Dragon is looking really healthy today." Most places in Australia could have me groaning on the ground clutching freshly kicked nuts seconds later, but here she smiles and agrees he's a beauty. I leave the office, thankful I haven't been manhandled out by security gorillas and with the great feeling that I'm now a legitimate Gold Prospector. Off to the fields to dig gold nuggets like potatoes and earn that round Australia holiday ticket overnight.
About forty kilometres later, I have to stop for a koala on the roadside.
He's a biggun.
Australians have a fascination with building these big bronze, steel and fibreglass monuments, to draw in tourist dollars. With the souvenir shop, Icecreamery, a Hotel and even an Indian Restaurant alongside, this one seems to get a healthy share of traffic.
After a bit more riding, refueling and camping gear shopping (I wanted a plastic gold panning dish (no luck there), hexamine stove and grabbed a couple of cheap waterproof roll top bags for my panniers at home), I finally make the goldfields of the Saint Arnaud Range National Park, near Redbank township. Into the forrest along the all weather tracks...
And find an old campsite only metres in, with a bottle dump dating back to maybe the 1860's, containing a few intact hand made potion and elixir bottles left by previous prospectors for all visitors to appreciate.
Such bottle dumps were common on the goldfields where settlements were formed near reliable mining sites. The actual "snake-oil" potions were designed by the chemists and hawkers to be so foul and horrid to ingest, the patient consuming them would feel so much better once they were finished, he/she would feel miraculously cured by said half toxic blends.
And finally, deep into the eucalyptus forrest to camp right near some old gold mines and diggings.
My home for the next few days.
Loving this keep it coming please Sundowner
Next morning after a breakfast of porridge with extra salt, I let the campfire die, kick some dirt over it for safety and grab my gold detecting kit for a day exploring the old mine sites nearby.
The bare soil mounds are the remains of hand dug mine holes dating back to about 1855. Thousands of ounces of nuggety gold have been hauled from this area when it was first rushed. With high hopes and a half full water bladder tucked into my backpack tank bag, along with some muesli bars for lunch and my good camera to record the first awesome gold haul, I set off across the gully towards the diggings, earphones on intently listening for any signal from the detector worth digging. You have to watch your step out here...
It'd be easy for me to disappear with little trace. Holes like this were dug down to the clay base, where the gold supposedly rested after being erroded off the quartz reefs further up the nearby mountains. Once at that level, the miners gathered all the soil with a bucket and rope to be hauled to the surface and sifted for the gold pieces. Tunneling would continue until the miner broke through into his neighbour's tunnel. The holes in this area were all about eight to twelve feet deep. Most had been refilled by collapsing dirt around the sides. Although covered by fallen leaves, branches and tree bark, the extent of the diggings was quite amazing. The whole area along the gully was covered by old mines.
I spent all day walking through the diggings, earphones on, occasionally digging a piece of scrap steel, rusted tin, old iron nail or even pieces of lead tubing from discarded miner's supplies.
By dusk I was happy to return to camp, just to finally sit down and rest. I'd spent all day working the field up and down the gully next to camp but in reality, probably only covered an area the size of a soccer field. It was a great day though, with some exciting moments digging deep signals that turned out to be old miner's junk. Other than a brief flair at sunset, there was no gold today for this new chum miner.
I spent the night listening to the forrest's nocturnal animals scurry and hop around after the birds sang themselves to sleep. From all the dung I'd seen today, this area was alive with roos, wallabies, possums, wombats and maybe even a wild dog or two. My small campfire kept them at bay but seemed to attract a huge number of spiders. That night the wind came up in random gusts tearing through the tree canopy as clouds filled the skies, gradually blocking out the stars. For entertainment, I listened to the ABC National radio shows until the fire had finally died down safe enough for me to head to sleep.
Next morning, after a cold and damp night, I woke to rain. This wasn't too much of an issue for me, as I needed to do a run into the township to fill my camelback and some of my water bladders. So after breakfast of a few Anzac slices washed down with the last of my water, I fired the bike into life and rode carefully along the wet forrest tracks then by main road into Redbank, where I went straight to the local sports ground for water. The area was also the emergency meeting and shelter area in case of bushfires.
Not much to the town, other than a Hotel that appeared to be now closed permanently and some typical rural house blocks, complete with barking dogs and pet livestock.
Plus a house with a huge paddock full of vintage to modern cars and curiosity items, worth a photo.
Then back into the forrest once more.
For a bit of a ride around and explore before returning to camp. From what I could tell, I was the only human for miles. The tracks were slippery but great fun to ride.
With it continuing to rain, I fired up the new haxamine stove for a cup of tea....
and spent the day tent bound, reading up on the gold fields of the area....
before finally doing a couple of fruitless hours detecting the creek area before the sun set once again. At least the rain had finally stopped.
That night, once dinner was cooked and eaten, I knocked up a nice, heavy muesli bread for tucker for the next few days.
Half a kilo of Self-raising flour, half a bag of fruit and nut muesli mix and enough water to mix into a clean, soft dough.
Like so, adding flour until the mix neither sticks or flakes.
Ready to cook.
Waiting patiently, making sure it stays at a good heat with plenty of coals on standby.
Done. Not too bad. I love my camp oven.
I can't resist breaking off a piece while it's hot, for supper.
To share with a little visitor.
Isn't he a cutey. Harmless, I think. He was a bit tricky, coming back inside three times while I waited for the bread to bake.
After finally ejecting him one last time into the cold night air, I hit the hay myself, making a mental note to keep the tent done up from now on.
Muesli bread in a camp oven, sitting in the bush listening to the ABC on the wireless, this ride report has it all.
Except for the bit when you find a large nugget, ride to a Yamaha dealer and say "I'll take that Super Ten 1200 thanks mate"
i dunno, but i think living on so much museli... there is not gonna be any 'large nuggets' for a while...
Great work Sundowner.... been bustin all day for the next installment.....
You ain't alone.
Nice idea - carrying a detector. Hope you get some.
Thanks mate, there's some great stuff still to come. You're right about the new Super Tenere idea. No hessitation from what I've seen the Aussie guys doing with them. The ABC was a great listen when you haven't spoken to anyone for days. I really enjoyed guessing through the nightly quiz. Some of the music wasn't that bad either. F#ck, I must be getting old. Enjoying the ABC is the start of a rapid downhill slide. :eek1
Thanks mate, glad you're enjoying it. It's a great area to visit, when you get a new bike. Re those nuggets, I found the diet and exercise that good, I actually lost two belt notches. Not that that's too hard digging holes and walking all day.
I found something amazing, but you'll have to wait to find out what and how big it was. It's coming up soon. It made the trip for me, finding it.
I start the next day surrounded by clearing skys, sunlight and amazing birdsong, thanks to a good mix of Magpies ((Go here for a full description - http://birdsinbackyards.net/species/Gymnorhina-tibicen ) or (listen to them here - http://birdsinbackyards.net/images/audio/gymnorhina-tibicen.mp3)), Kookaburras ((http://birdsinbackyards.net/species/Dacelo-novaeguineae ) or (http://birdsinbackyards.net/images/audio/dacelo-novaeguineae.mp3 )), Currawongs ((http://birdsinbackyards.net/species/Strepera-graculina ) or (http://birdsinbackyards.net/images/audio/strepera-graculina.mp3 )) as well as the usual noisy Sulfur Crested Cockatoos ((http://birdsinbackyards.net/species/Cacatua-galerita ) or (http://birdsinbackyards.net/images/audio/cacatua-galerita.mp3 )) and other assorted raptors. Waking with the birds isn't optional, it's mandatory. The Magpies are my favourite, without doubt, especially when you get a chorus of half a dozen or so young birds gathered together - just magic. So after cooking some plain. salty porridge and a cup of tea, I set out from the campsite, searching for the quartz reef further up the hill behind camp, detector humming along in the headphones as I follow a trail of broken quartz pieces higher and higher. Finally, after a couple of hours, I've reached the main reef and find this...
It's an amazingly deep shaft that cuts straight through the quartz outcrop, down at least fifty metres before being swallowed into pure darkness.
Not the place to slip or fall. I wonder how many kangaroos have hopped straight into it in the dark? I back away after working the tailings dump then follow the reef line downhill.
Great view from up here, they must have been fit miners to hike from the creek up to here every day. "I can't see my camp from here."
One thing that really impressed me was how good my new Sidi Adventure Goretex boots were to hike in - just first class boots and they lost their squeak days ago. Anyway, down the slope I go, constantly detecting and following the reef line. The rusty white quartz is easy to spot, even in the thick ground cover.
A close-up of the reef material. Gold prospecting is as much about geological knowledge and understanding as it is about pure luck and hard work.
While wandering along, something unusual on the ridge above me catches my eye, so I hike back up to investigate.
It's an old cannabis crop site. Well enclosed by chicken wire and shade cloth but in a poor state of repair due to the collapse of a tree over the main structure. It still has water tanks and pot planters inside, but they're empty. I'm sure someone thought it was a good spot to grow, but it's kind of obvious in an area with few ground shrubs for camouflage.
What is growing up here are these perfect, minature wild orchids, about the width of a fingernail.
Anyway, after making sure I'm not being tracked by hillbillies with guns, I continue downhill, towards the creek. Stepping around a large fallen tree, I almost step straight onto this guy.
Crikey! What a beautiful creature. Thank Gawd it wasn't a snake, as my left boot landed inches from his head.
The perfect natural camouflage for his environment year round with fallen leaves and moss covered rocks, he surprised me by not even moving a single millimetre the whole time I was near him. Maybe he'd never seen a human before and didn't know how dangerous we were?
After stumbling across this Shingleback Lizard (Go here for more info - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiliqua_rugosa ) I become much more cautious wandering around the scrub, as I know the snakes will be out of winter hibernation if the lizards are out and about. But I've got my riding boots and over boot mx pants on, so I'm okay except when I stop to dig up a detector signal. The scrub has become a snake infested area suddenly, especially down near the creek.
What a special area this is. I follow the creek back to camp, working the erroded base and edges as I go.
Freshly bloomed golden Wattle. Our Nations Floral Emblem, used on the Federal Coat of Arms and forming the colours of many of our international sports team uniforms.
The rich undergrowth plants and fungi, including hallucinogenic Psilocybin mushrooms. More on these later.
The trunk of a long dead gum tree near camp.
And the branch of a recently fallen one, the colours set off by last nights rain.
Back at camp, I gather some water from the creek, boil some with a fresh fire and have a great shower come scrub down before throwing the laundry into the remaining water to make use of the rare sunshine.
And while we're on campsite domestics, my nightly feed...
boiled up so I can use the water for a cup of soup before the rice/canned food main meal and if I'm lucky, enough for a cup of tea afterwards.
They provided a feed I looked forward to each night with good variety while allowing me cheap travel and the ability to be free of the real need for townships every day.
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Please tell me you helped yourself to a mouthful!
thanks Sd .... whats down the hole ..... please tell me you go down .... well??
Probably dead bodies and hundreds of writhing snake. If I had the climbing ropes to have a look and an offsider, I could've been tempted. It doesn't show it very well in the photo of that shaft but they've basically chiselled their way straight down through solid rock. That's why the shaft's still in such perfect condition 150 years later. They must have found a great seam of gold or really rich indicators at the surface to dig down that deep, because it would've taken them months or years to do it by hand. The other odd thing I noticed is that there didn't seem to be a corresponding sized pile of excavated material on the surface for the depth of the hole, which made me think they either set up a crushing battery nearby or used the creek downhill to wash the paying soil. The chain of mines along the reef nearby were nowhere near as deep, so maybe the success of this deep lead mine was limited. Some of these shafts in this district went down to 2400 feet. That's a hell of a depth chasing a seam.
Love your work!
Glad that you are researching your facts and not trying to bullshit us.
You seem to be evolving from David Attenborough into Doug Stone.