Our Birdsville-Flinders Experience / Thank-you Tugboat Bill

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by havafati, May 15, 2013.

  1. havafati

    havafati Yassdafarian

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    As some of you would be aware the seed for this trip was a tragic one. Tugboat Bill a legendary rider in the Aussie adventure riding world passed away in late 2012 after losing his fight with depression. I'd never met Bill or Philth but had always enjoyed their antics on the DVDs that Phith produces. Myself a BiPolar depressive felt this loss deep inside me, something I never expected seeing as I'd never met Tugboat. So when Philth put the word out on ADV about the gathering on the edge of the Simpson Desert to celebrate what would have been Bill's 50th birthday and to say farewell I new I just had to do it.

    I put the word out on my local sub thread on ADVrider to see if anybody else was keen to go and we soon had a small party together, one that only truly got together in Birdsville but more on that later, Benz-inOz (DR 650), BergDonk and Wife (Mazda BT50), late ring in JDeks (KTM 950), Jonesy (Land Rover Disco), my lovely better half Tanya and myself Havafati (BMW R1150GS PIG). Loose plans were made as we were all aware that plans change and nothing should be set in concrete. Benz and the BergDonks would be leaving a day before us and we'd leave on the 3rd and catch them up. Plan number 1 to fail. I failed to take into account that I'm one unfit bastard.

    Now I'm not going to lie I had a support vehicle and I was EFF ENN glad Jonesy was there.
    Cheers mate

    The Disco
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    DAY ONE 3rd of May
    Plan was to leave at the crack of dawn and head to Wanaaring from Yass, a big first day. JDeks didn't arrive from Sale until 1am in the morning with his KTM 950 waking the street as it came in all thunderbolts and lightning. He then copped 4 hours sleep on the couch before he had to work on the bike as we did our final preps. It didn't help that he'd hit a roo on the way up and had to repair the left hand tank. We were on our way about 8ish all full of anticipation and excitement. We made good time rolling into Cobar at about 1pm.

    On the road to Cobar.
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    Cobar
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    Twas after Cobar on the Louth road that I started to struggle for the first time. The further we went the deeper the bulldust got. the whole bloody road was 10-20cm deep bulldust, nowhere to hide. And man did I struggle, I had my first off on that road.

    Louth Road
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    What have I done
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    Getting Dark
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    We arrived in Louth after dark and set up next to the Pub after a couple of soothing beers. Louth is a great little joint with friendly people and green grass to camp on, the last we would see for entire trip. Tanya cooked us up some steak sangas and we were in hog heaven. JDeks did some more repairs to the fuel tank which saw it right for the rest of the trip. An early night was had by all.

    Tanya's fancy cot tent glamping in Louth
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    Louth Camp
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    DAY TWO 4th of May
    Day break saw us up and out of bed and raring to go. I was ready to face the day and not let the evening before beat me. We were on the road at about 7.30ish and soon purring along until more bloody bulldust appeared. FAAAARRRRKKK. I came off again, this time for the benefit of JDeks camera. We picked the bike up and I stood there assessing myself when JDeks said, "Mate just get rid of your luggage and I reckon you'll be right." So into the Disco it went. Well bugger me happy days. Sure it was baby steps at first but within half an hour I was into it big time and we ended up getting into Wanaaring just before lunch. Straight to the general store to see the friendly faces of Ben and Margret. A bit of a chinwag and some lunch and we were on our way to Tiboburra.

    Ben Fuels us up in Wanaaring
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    Wanaaring to Tiboburra The Cut Line a superhighway
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    JDeks agreed
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    Salt Pan The Cut Line
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    Did it easy and clocked my fastest speed for the trip on that road (not telling) and shouted myself a quick beer after fuelling up. the others soon learn't if I wasn't at the servo I was at the pub. We decided that as it was only 3pm we should push on so we headed out for Cameron Corner. We Didn't quite make it and decided rather than pay to camp at the Corner store we'd stop at Fort Grey. Best decision we could have made the campground had toilets, rainwater, free gas BBQ's and best of all it was just us.

    Mmmmm Beer Toole's Family Hotel
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    Fort Grey Campground
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    Sexy Man Fort Grey Campground
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    Ah the Stars Fort Grey Campground
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    Sunrise Fort Grey Campground
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    <iframe width="853" height="480" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/CzSwYKV5was?list=PL23DDF1AF87A8042A" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    To Be Continued...
    #1
  2. Doctor

    Doctor Banned

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    again Fati love ya work :clap

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    now more please :clap
    #2
  3. havafati

    havafati Yassdafarian

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    Thanks Fellas. I can't take credit for all the pics. The night sky in particular was taken by my mate Jonesy, his first go at the night sky too :clap.
    Cheers
    Fati
    #3
  4. jtb

    jtb Long timer

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    Nice! Keep it coming :clap:clap:clap:clap
    #4
  5. Russ

    Russ Let's ride Super Moderator

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    Good stuff Fati :thumb
    #5
  6. havafati

    havafati Yassdafarian

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    DAY THREE 5th of May
    Up early this morning, even beat the sun. The Corellas were up and making noise over at the Fort Grey wetlands before making a spectacular exit as the sun rose. Up and gone by 7.30 it was off to the Corner store for a quick top up for the next leg to Innaminka and beyond. Easy 26km ride to the Cameron Corner Store, this was where we heard of a rider who went down on some washouts about 30kms out the day before, not sure but I think it was UncleGra.

    Crappy iPhone pic of the Fort Grey Sunrise with the moon in shot
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    Morning Visit Fort Grey
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    Fuel at the Cameron Corner Store
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    The Dingo Fence Cameron Corner
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    The Three State marker Cameron Corner
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    We left the Corner and headed out for the Old Strzelecki Track and our first of two desert crossings, the Strzelecki Desert. This was a huge moment for me as I'd never thought I'd be doing this on a bike, ever, I was a tad emotional as we headed in, not that I told anybody. As we headed for Merty Merty I was amazed at the amount of dunes we had to cross, I just didn't expect that many. We rode gingerly as we had been warned of washouts on the back sides of the dunes. My concentration slipped once and I'm pretty certain I hit the washouts that brought the other rider undone. It was truly a sphincter tightening moment and I thought I was gone as it was three huge holes one after another. BANG BANG BANG went the undercarriage as the PIG bounced in and out of each hole, I'm sure my feet were higher than my head at one stage. We got to the turn off for the Old Strzelecki Track and stopped for regroup and a smoke and I let my sphincter calm down.

    The Old Strzelecki Track was in really good condition and we made great time doing it in about an hour. I haven't mentioned yet but the wildlife was really starting to come out the further we went, since Tiboburra I'd seen Red Roos, Grey Roos, Wedgetail Eagles, Kite Hawks and stupid bloody Emus. I digress, we hit the road to Innaminka and it was another desert superhighway. This allowed us a good cruising speed and we made Innaminka for lunch. It was about this time I noticed I was starting to feel sick, I didn't worry to much as I thought a feed would see me right. Big Mistake.

    The Road to Innaminka
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    The Innaminka Superhighway
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    WTF????
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    Lunch at Innaminka
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    Things went a little pear shaped after Innaminka. The Disco had blown an air bag on the rear drivers side and was looking sad indeed, much credit to Jonesy who babied it to Blinman were a replacement was waiting. I took the advice of the lady who runs the Innaminka General Store who said going Cordello Downs was a bad choice and that we should hit the Walkers Crossing Track as it was freshly graded. And it was too, on the Santos made roads not the actual Walkers Crossing tracks. Deep sand awaited us in places and this was another new experience, I was up on the pegs though with my bum over the rear as far as I could get and was doing the best I could. Unfortunately I wasn't drinking enough water and soon came off the bike as I tried to negotiate a bend on a very sandy bit. I could barely stand let alone pick the bike up so there I lay till the Disco showed its pretty grill. Vomiting up lunch and shaking like a leaf I got under a tree and stripped down to my reg grundies and started drinking a litre of hydrolytes to rehydrate. That was the last time I would let that happen it was a bit scary. I had my last fall for the trip on a reasonably normal corner coming to a stop, the front wheel just dug into the sand and I high sided. My shoulder still aches from that one. JDeks scouted ahead and said it wasn't much further to go and we were out so after about and hour I got back on the bike and we made it to Walkers Crossing where we made camp for the night.

    Walkers Crossing Memorial
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    Walkers Crossing
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    A Santos road Walkers Crossing
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    Camp at Walkers Crossing
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    DAY FOUR 6th of May
    This was one one the biggest days of the trip. We had to be in Birdsville so we could head out to Tugboat Bill's Farewell that afternoon, trouble was we got a wee bit lost. As I said to the wife we're not lost we just don't know where we are. We'd lost the Walkers Crossing track and ended up on an unmapped track. We consulted maps and GPS and couldn't see anything but desert. We could however see the Birdsville track on our GPS so we stayed on tracks that kept us heading in that direction, some times you've just got to have faith in yourself.

    The Disco looking a little leany
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    Not lost but which track
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    Consult the paper maps&#8230; ummm you are nowhere
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    Not that the track was to bad
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    Thats right drink that water boyo
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    Twas a tad sandy but not to bad
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    Dingo tracks
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    Gibber Plains the bottom of the Sturt Stony Desert Our second Desert
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    Gibbers and Sand Dunes
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    How the hell do cattle survive out here???
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    We made it out to the Birdsville Track with no further problems and headed for Birdsville. We were cruising along nicely when I noticed that I had no more bars of fuel left, no worries I thought the reserve light hasn't come on yet and its only 10kms to Birdsville. 7kms out the PIG ran dry cough cough sputter and nothing, bugger the reserve light was blown. The Disco soon appeared and out with the jerry can splash a few litres in and away, all I could think of was cold beers.

    The Iconic Bridsville Track
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    He only parked here overnight
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    Yes Yes not far to go
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    Our first encounter with other riders, Sorry fellas I have a shocker for names
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    But I knew what a Fogo looks like
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    Filler up and away
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    Birdsville Servo
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    Cold Beer at last and Finally getting to meet Nazza, Matty and Ani with Beetle at the Birdsville Pub
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    As the time to head out to Little Red the tribe was gathering
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    We headed around to the Pub and met Nazza, Matty (Desert Dog), Ani the dog and Beetle sitting in the cool of the veranda enjoying a few coldies, of which I partook in a few myself. It was here that we started to hear of the casualties of the trip including one of our party Benz-in-Oz who came a cropper on the Fifteen Mile track heading to Walkers Crossing when he hit the wet clay from the water truck on the section being graded. Banged his ankle up pretty bad and it was very purple and swollen. Luckily the Bergdonks were not far behind and they and a couple of other riders loaded his bike into their ute and got him to Birdsville. This was also the first time our little group was all together.
    We booked into the Birdsville Hotel for the night had a feed and unloaded the Disco. I decided to go out to Little red in the Disco and give my body a break as it was starting to feel it. We headed out about 3.30pm so we could be there when everybody arrived so we could take pictures.

    And here they are
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    On the edge of the third desert for the trip... The Simpson Desert
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    Words can't really give justice to the emotions that went through everybody as close friends and family of Tugboats payed their final respects and told stories about Bill. A fruit cake had some candles lit and we all sang happy birthday to the Dead Set Legend known as Tugboat Bill. I'm tearing up even now as I think back, it was very very moving.

    The monument was built by Easo and is made up of the frame of the DR 650 that Bill used on the Coast to Coast ride with Philth and a Tugboat bell

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    We headed back into town and had an early night. I was a tad overwhelmed.

    :cry

    <iframe width="853" height="480" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/N8nq0swJeeA?list=PL23DDF1AF87A8042A" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>


    To be Continued....
    #6
  7. havafati

    havafati Yassdafarian

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    DAY FIVE 7th of May

    Day Five was a rest day and it was great to relax and have a look around Birdsville. We said goodbye to the BergDonks as they headed out on their Simpson Desert Crossing adventure. We moved over to the Birdsville Caravan Park for the night. We wandered around town and took some piccies. We were having lunch when THE GAV wandered into the dining room, hey mate we said pull up a stool and have a beer. He'd put a hole in the side cover of his KTM the day before on Little Red and cooked the CDI and his bike was a no goer. It was being trucked back to Brisbane and he was flying out on the Friday. He could only get one nights accommodation at the pub but it worked out ok as he could stay with Benz-in-Oz at the Caravan Park, Benz needed a little help getting around with his bung foot. It was really good to meet THE GAV as he was one of Bill's really good mates, he gave us some really good insight into Bill as a man and told us a few stories. Thanks Gav. We had a BBQ that night and prepared for leaving the next day.

    The Diamantina River at Birdsville, Queensland
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    The Iconic Birdsville Hotel
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    Birdsville Airport
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    The Old Royal Hotel
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    How now brown owl
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    Birdsville Sunset
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    DAY SIX 8th of May
    After breakfast we said our goodbyes to Benz, Gav and JDeks (who was bitten by the desert bug and was hanging around to do some of the Simpson) and made our way out to the Inside Birdsville Track. This track was only opened a week before and was great fun. My fear of sand gone I rode the sandy creek beds with no drama. It was a great track and we were happy to say we'd done it. We joined up with the Birdsville track proper and headed for Mungerannie. Now if you've never stopped at Mungerannie do yourself a favour and be there. Its a top little spot and we got a skinful of rum that night. We had the excitement of watching some Coober Pedy window lickers (the locals term for em) load a broken down BMW GS (the same one from the big stack on Little Red) onto their tilt tray truck. Best entertainment ever as advice came from all corners. Everything else that happened at Mungerannie stays at Mungerannie, and I can't remember much. Phil and the boys were great hosts, and the locals told some great yarns and bush poetry, hunter_greyghost would have loved it.

    Sturts Pea outside the Birdsville Bakery
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    A drink on the Inside Birdsville Track
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    Death awaits the unsuspecting on the Inside Birdsville Track
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    What took you so long I'm already half way though and its your shout
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    Time for a Hot Bath (where the hell did you get those fancy fly nets)
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    We spent a few hours in there
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    Corellas apparently mate for life awwwww
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    Mungerannie Wetlands
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    Some of Tom Kruse's left overs (Tom Kruse was the original Mail truck man for the area)
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    A rock from the inside of an Ants nest spilt to show the layers
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    The Bus that never comes
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    Galahs
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    Fire in the Sky
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    Big Night Out
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    Cheers Phil
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    To be Continued...
    #7
  8. ferals5

    ferals5 Team black bikes

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    excellent stuff mate :clap:clap:clap
    #8
  9. ShaneBaby

    ShaneBaby Been here awhile

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    Fan eff fnn tastic, great sunset shot
    #9
  10. Hoots

    Hoots Long timer

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    Brilliant Fati!
    #10
  11. hunter_greyghost

    hunter_greyghost XS650 Allroads Traveller

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    Bloody good yarn, making me jealous, gotta do the trip someday soon, reckon 'Kenny' would've handled it!!! :lol3
    Maybe next year I'll find out! :eek1
    Cheers
    Baza
    #11
  12. duckslider

    duckslider unintentionaldrifter

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    Bloody outstanding stuff, fati!!!:thumb
    #12
  13. Quirky

    Quirky Been here awhile

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    Good stuff Fati, keep it coming! I will confirm that it was a huge night at Mungerannie.
    Didn't see you lot out and about when we left at dawn for the 11hr truck ride to Port Augusta. Do you remember Bob & Billy?

    Despite Muzza's concerns, I didn't get mugged or raped and the bike travelled really well.

    The crew at Mungerannie looked after me really well.


    :freaky
    #13
  14. ata

    ata expat in the jungle

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    awesome pic report

    that can be called a desert (in capitals)

    :beer
    #14
  15. havafati

    havafati Yassdafarian

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    DAY SEVEN 9th of May
    Today's the day that saw us leave the deserts behind and into the Flinders Ranges. We left Mungerannie at about 9am with a couple of really sore heads thanks to Phil's rum and lemonades. Heading south towards Maree we stopped and watch a couple of cattlemen working with their Kelpies, was really cool to watch. Hit Marree in time for a lunch fuel and a smoke then left as there really is stuff all there. Cruising along I spotted what appeared to be a big stick figure off to my left intrigued I pulled over to find it was a monument to John McDouall Stuart who explored the region back in the 1861-62. After a few piccies we headed on and found the Farina Ruins if we had more time I would have loved to camp the night and explore more but we were on a promise to fix the Disco and the part was hopefully waiting in Blinman.

    Working the Cattle
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    Lake Eyre Yacht Club
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    Monument to John McDouall Stuart
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    A few Random shots of the Farina Ruins
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    Back on the road it was just a few hours before the Flinders Ranges started to appear and how spectacular they were. My bloody go pro camera went flat just as I crested a hill and they came into view. Breath taking. We kept heading south and turned left at Parachilna and headed through the Parachilna gorge until we hit Angorichina which would be our base for the next three nights. I grabbed some rum and meat from the store and we had a bang up BBQ and just chilled for the night.

    The Flinders Ranges first glimpses
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    Bang up BBQ and a few laughs
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    Sunset at Angorichina
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    DAY EIGHT 10th of May
    Headed into Blinman and found Jonesy's part for the Disco was waiting, hooray, so it was back to Ango to fit it. With the suspension now fixed we headed out to Glass Gorge and up to the Nuccaleena Mine ruins for a spot of 4wd action. Back to Ango again to clean up then of to Blinman for friday night pizza. Bloody good pizza too. Back to Ano again to watch Geelong smash somebody (I forget things) over a few more rums then off to bed.

    Get off the Bloody road
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    Baby Emus&#8230; oh no not more of the bloody things
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    Taking an urgent call on a phone that doesn't work Blinman
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    Blinman Post Office to the rescue
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    The view on the road to Nuccaleena Mine ruins
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    Old man Gum
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    Teaching the kids how they made the original laser sounds for Star Wars (yes I'm a geek)
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    A wallaby with joey&#8230; why does its head look like a lama
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    Nuccaleena Mine ruins incredible stone work no mortar
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    What we could only ascertain were rum bottles and there were thousands Nuccaleena Mine ruins
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    Crazy Paving Nuccaleena Mine ruins
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    Where Wedgetail Eagles Dare
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    Day Nine 11th of May
    Our last full day in the Flinders Ranges after checking out the great Wall of China we headed down to Brachina Gorge for a look around. This is something that has to be seen to be believed. Traveling back in time to the formation of the land we know today over 800 million years ago. We had a friendly visit from the threatened Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby which took us completely by surprise as he came up to us as if to say g'day, mind you he wouldn't come any closer than 5 meters but it was pretty cool. We looped back around and into Wilpena Pound which left me a little cold as it was just a big tourist operation, I'm sure there are some lovely bush walks there but it wasn't my cup of tea. It was getting late in the day so it was back to Ango for our last BBQ and a bit of fun with the camera. Early to bed off to Broken Hill tomorrow.

    Great Wall of China
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    The Disco all happy again
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    The Flinders everywhere you look
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    Brachina Gorge twisted time
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    Sedimentary layers millions of years old Brachina Gorge
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    Threatened Species Yellow Footed Wallaby Brachina Gorge
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    Fossilised Worm tubes&#8230; Apparently
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    The Colours change every five minutes Flinders Ranges
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    Fun with the Camera on our last night at Angorichina
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    DAY TEN 12th of May
    We left Angorichina early and headed for Broken Hill It rained at times.
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    I don't know what kind of porn they watch here but I'm not going to their Telecentre
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    Into NSW and our last Piccie
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    DAYS ELEVEN AND TWELVE 13th and 14th of May
    Thats it we slabbed it for home as it got colder and wetter. Stopping a night in Cobar then all the way home via Dubbo.


    This was a truly awe inspiring trip one I probably would never have made. I was content to be a keyboard warrior, but no longer. I know I can do it now and I mean really do it. Thanks to all who traveled with me Jonesy, Jdeks and my beautiful wife Tanya, but most of all thank you Tugboat Bill for inspiring me to do something out of the ordinary and to push myself into the extraordinary. Thank You.


    Cheers
    Havafati
    :D
    #15
  16. havafati

    havafati Yassdafarian

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  17. turbobob

    turbobob Been here awhile

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    Location:
    Sunshine Coast, Qld
    Great work Havafati. Great photos and story. I especially liked your last few words. Bill and others on ADV have inspired many of us. I agree we just need to get out there and do it. Well said.

    Drjoe and I were the ones that pulled up and spoke to you guys just before heading in to Birdsville (when you were waiting for fuel to arrive). We were probably not to talkative at that point as Philth puts it "our asses were on fire and brains in neutral" by that stage. It was great to meet you guys and awesome to see everyone rolling in to Birdsville for Bills 50th.

    Thanks for sharing your fantastic photos and details of your trip.
    #17
  18. Clancy

    Clancy Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    6,287
    Location:
    Land of droughts, and flooding rains
    Brilliant Fati:clap For those of us who couldn't be there, you captured it brilliantly. Thank you:thumb
    #18
  19. UncleGra

    UncleGra Sus pensioner and Fear Bighter

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,595
    Location:
    TWILIGHT ZONE
    Thats a great yarn there Fati thanks and nicely done..:clap
    #19
  20. WILL_S

    WILL_S OUTLAW POSTIE 001

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,727
    Location:
    goodly satisfactory place, qld
    :clapGreat pics and rr:clap
    Thanks
    #20