Australia - The four amigos

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Benji13, Apr 23, 2020.

  1. Benji13

    Benji13 Adventurer

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    One of my mates in Sydney is also waiting for the pandemic to blow over soon enough so that he can ride to Perth for the first time to see friends. I quietly am thinking of going along for part or the whole way. Not discussed with the queen yet.
    #21
  2. Benji13

    Benji13 Adventurer

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    Chaffey Dam near Nundle from Day 1.
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    Day 2 - 536km

    Glen Innes Highlands is ‘Celtic Country’. The area’s first settler was Archibald Boyd, a barrister from Selkirkshire in Scotland. He established what is now called Stonehenge Station in 1838. Today, Glen Innes citizens cherish the area’s Celtic heritage. A group of locals established the Australian Standing Stones, based on the megalithic structures found in the ancient Celtic world. They are unique in the southern hemisphere and have been officially recognised as the national monument to Australia’s Celtic pioneers. We flew the "bird" and took some aerial shots.

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    Sadly the "bird" went kaput soon afterward possibly due to the vibration or heat or both in the topbox. It was fixed after we came back to Sydney. We are glad that it went around the country and had at least one good photo, and we would learn from this lesson for future trips. Thanks to Robbie's brother for lending it to us. Will I buy one myself, I don't know.

    Today we are riding on the Great Dividing Range.

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    The Great Dividing Range is Australia's most substantial mountain range and the fifth longest land-based range in the world. It stretches more than 3,500 kilometres from Dauan Island in the Torres Strait off the northern tip of Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, running the entire length of the eastern coastline through New South Wales, then into Victoria and turning west, before finally fading into the central plain at the Grampians in western Victoria. There are many fantastic mountain roads for motorbikes on the range in NSW and Queensland like Oxley Highway, Waterfall Way, Summerland Way, Bruxner Highway, Lindesay Highway. It is easy to spend two weeks crisscrossing on these roads up to Mount Glorious near Brisbane.

    We passed Woodenbong, and crossed the state border into Queensland on the Mount Lindesay. When we reached Brisbane, we looked for its landmark:

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    It was in the afternoon on a Sunday. The park next to the Brisbane River was packed and hot. This was the only time on this trip that we hit a populated area. The 25 million population of Australia mainly lived in the south east cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. We are happy that the rest of the trip did not see much traffic until the very last day.

    The heat in Brisbane also for a short moment casted a slight doubt to us as we would be travelling to the top end of the country which is supposed to be much warmer. We were warned. Our plan was to travel to the warmer in the north first and turn west and south for the cooler weather before going into the summer season. Perhaps we should have had moved the start date a few weeks earlier if our work schedules had permitted.

    After Ferny Grove, Samford Valley, D'Aguilar, Cedarton and Beerwah through some wonderful motor biking roads, we reached Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast for some sea breeze.

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    We have nice cabin at the Alex Beach Cabins and Tourist Park. All the 4 bikes could be parked next to the cabin. We walked to the beach for fish and chips supper and enjoyed the sea breeze before going inland to the dry desert climate in a couple of days.
    #22
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  3. fikoli

    fikoli n00b

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    This is my favorite.

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  4. Benji13

    Benji13 Adventurer

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    Yes the K12S is a powerful and handsome sport tourer. Russell probably loved it more than the Tiger. However an adventure bike is more suitable for this country especially if you are covering big distance and want to wander off the sealed road. Indeed many times during our Tassie episode, there’s no choice but to go on unsealed roads.
    #24
  5. Benji13

    Benji13 Adventurer

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    Day 3 - 622km

    Today, we travelled up north in Queensland to Rockhampton, or Rocky, the beef capital of Australia. Before that, we went up the hills in the hinterlands of the Sunshine Coast.
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    At Gerrads Lookout. We were scrapping the pegs at the hill climb through Montville. I was new to the big size and upright geometry of the GS. I was totally rubbish at the first few 25km/h corners (my excuse was not enough coffee in the morning), and almost taken out by a Camry. When we were young and hooligans, we were told to look out for Volvo drivers. These days we do not see that many Volvos in Australia. Their celestial places were taken by Camry drivers I suppose.

    I had booked the tour at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. Russell was not keen (I cannot remember whether he had done it before), and he wanted to see someone in Rocky. So 3 of us went for the 1 hour tour.

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    The tour was not bad and we tried the 2017 dark rum Solera though I am not a rum person. The plant was a bit old. And it was big for Aussie standard but not for the international standard. The guide said the majority of its rum were sold locally. A small portion sold in New Zealand. It sounded like they were happy with it and did not bother to push any expansion into the overseas market. Good luck to them. Well they are likely doing well in this pandemic as the bottle shops are super busy now.

    We left the Distillery a bit late. The weather took a rum-bling turn. We were pushing for Rodky in the dusk when we were hit by a rain storm. It reminded me of the sand storm in the movie Mummy. We were no Tom Cruise but hell we were like trying to run away from this storm. The gust blew the BMW's sideway. It was simply un-ride-able. We stopped at the road side under the dark sky only pierced by the thunder lightnings. All hazard lights on in case the flying past b-doubles could not see us. How nice a lady look a U-turn to check on us when she saw us hugging under a yellow flipping bike cover. When the lightning struck too close, we had no choice but pushed on. We made it to Rocky late in the dark and Russell was so happy and dry waiting at the bar.

    The Criterion Hotel we stayed was famous for the wrong reason.
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    The 130 years old hotel is haunted. A chambermaid killed herself in the hotel after being jilted by her stable hand lover. So during the dinner in its restaurant, we asked the waiter:
    "Is it true?"
    "Oh yes"
    "You've seen it?"
    "Oh yes"
    "Which room?"
    "35"
    "Ahhhhhhhh!"
    PS. They did tell me on the phone that they were giving us a "good" deal when I booked last week.
    #25
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  6. Benji13

    Benji13 Adventurer

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    Day 4 - 744km

    Now we were heading west and towards the outback. Australia is the driest continent on earth. The greenbelt is only a small part of the country near the coast. Even the greenbelt places look dry compared to England or other places in Europe, much more yellowish brown with barely any plants. In the outback the earth colour changed from to red, very distinctive.

    Before the dead straight road, we went up Mount Morgan to warm up the tyre walls first. And then Dululu and Westwood.
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    We stayed at the Wellshot Hotel after a long and dry ride on the Capricorn Highway. We are doing big distance day after day. We had a tour booked for the following day. So we stopped before Longreach to have beer and a good feed before resting for the night.

    The hotel was mainly run by cheerful young backpackers from Europe. They worked for a year in these remote farms or old pubs so that they could travel and see the country afterward. Sadly many of them lost their jobs during this outbreak and they are not eligible for the government handout. So many of them had no choice but returned to their home country. I hope they will comeback to finish their travelling here when the outbreak is over.
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    Remain of the old sheep farm fences.

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    We turned left. Nothing political here.
    #26
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  7. SmoKEMup

    SmoKEMup Aw bugger! - I hope nobody saw that......

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    I'm in if there is space on the road. Like you my trip was cancelled but before it started.
    #27
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  8. Benji13

    Benji13 Adventurer

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    The premier of NSW confirmed last week that motorcycling is exercise, allowed during this pandemic. So everyone was on the bike last weekend. We bought takeaway coffee and pies and stood outside Jerry's Café at Kulnura while maintaining social distancing. Two highway patrol cops were sipping flat white 1.5 meters on my left. Everybody was having a great time.

    Day 5 - Did 570km instead of 650km planned

    We woke up to a fine morning in Ilfracombe.

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    This morning we rode a short distance to Longreach. When we planned for the trip, I asked the amigos whether they wanted to go further north in Queensland to Townsville or Cairns, or visited the Qantas Founders Outback Museum. The overwhelming vote was on Qantas. We will see the far north Queensland in another trip which hopefully will include the Cape York Tip (with knobby tyres and perhaps lighter bikes) .

    Qantas stands for Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Services. We call it The Flying Kangaroo. Hope the pandemic will blow over soon enough and we can fly its beautiful Airbus 380 again.

    The museum is not owned by Qantas but it is the original home. The tour was great. 1.5hr and $63 per head. The place is nice but not busy. The four of us were the only ones in that morning tour with 2 guides. One was a trainee but he did great. They have 747, 707 and DC3. The dry outback perhaps kept them from any rust. They were restoring a Super Constellation. Such a beautiful plane. Need to go back when the restoration is completed.
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    After a coffee break in its café, we were back on the road. We love riding. There are always huge distance to ride in Australia. We saw a few monuments on the road side. We also saw some aboriginal flags and signs. More on the aboriginals later.

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    The outback whether is cool in the morning and the temperature rises quickly around noon time. When we reached Winton, it was bright and warm.

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    We rode up an unsealed road to the top of a hill (they were still sealing the winding roads so that it was easier for even two-wheel driven cars to go up) and visited the Winton's Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum. Again it is owned by a local couple and not-for-profit. Amazingly generous people. It would be a great driving holidays for families with young kids. We missed the daily tour but it was ok as we were running very late anyway.

    Then we arrived at the Walkabout Creek Hotel in the hot afternoon. Time to have a beer in the pub made famous by Crocodile Dundee. The publican lady was not warm in the beginning when we first walked but soon was charmed by 4 handsome and funny amigos.
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    It was getting dark and we would not make it to Mount Isa. So I called to cancel the bookings there. We stopped at Cloncurry and started looking for rooms. The first two places we walked in were full. I called a few and finally found two rooms at The Gidgee Inn. There was a large road work crew who had taken all the rooms in town. The Inn was good. A bit expensive. Well that is the price you pay when you winged it and were down on luck.
    #28
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  9. BMW-K

    BMW-K F800GS FTW!

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    You guys look like you’re having a great time!
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  10. Benji13

    Benji13 Adventurer

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    Oh yeah. However great pain also was coming to one of us. Keep watching.
    #30
  11. Benji13

    Benji13 Adventurer

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    Day 6 - 784km

    We woke up to a beautiful morning in Cloncurry. Enjoyed a nice breakfast came with the rooms in the Gidgee Inn before a very long ride.

    When we were riding into Mount Isa, our view on the bikes were hit fronton by the huge towering mining chimneys of MIM Mount Isa Mines near the town centre. It was interesting but perhaps a little eyesore to residents there having to look at these industrial monuments on a daily basis. It is a very productive mining town with lead, copper, silver and zinc. Sadly there were cases of brain damages and blood poisoning to children living there. I am no expert to judge but there is a cost to this country relying on mining.

    Talking industrial, my GS suddenly went into a false neutral gear. This was scary when you were turning onto a main road and trying to gas it. The bike was still new to me. I calmed down and blamed it on my poor kicking skills on gear shifting. However, it never happened to me on my sport bikes R1 or CBR1000RR. So I learned to respect the relatively agricultural gear box in the GS.

    Time to have short break for fuel and morning tea in Camooweal.
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    In NSW, we have mainly Shell, Caltex and BP petrol station. In far away places in Queensland and NT, Puma is a common sight. Not that the GSA's have to refuel as frequent as my petty GS.

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    Not long after the break, we crossed into NT.

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    It was my first time in the NT. Super excited. Years ago, my flight from Singapore to Melbourne was diverted to Darwin at night but that did not count as we did not see anything apart the airport lights there.

    The air was dry and still. The bikes were cutting through the warm air like a hot knife in butter, almost luxurious compared to battling with wind on the super sport bikes. Then we reached Barkly Homestead.

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    Now we were all sweating and sipping waters under the shade.

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    Road trains

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    THe road trains are long. 53.5m. It takes almost eternity to pass one.

    Robbie had a close encounter with a road train retread. One close call while side by side with a road train going in the opposite direction at 110km/h a retread exploded loose, rolling out in front of his front wheel, side swiping his crash bar and hitting his pannier. It survived the rest of the trip, just, but got replaced at the service after the trip. He was blessed to be home. More about his mishaps later.

    Finally we arrived at the Threeways Roadhouse. LOL not that kind of 3 ways as one of us would be missing out.

    They had pool. In no time we all jumped in. The two young ladies there were a bit frightened by the 4 blurry men. They politely excused themselves and got out of the pool in their beautiful swimsuits. Great for us now we had the whole place to ourselves. 2017 619.JPG

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    #31
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  12. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

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    good start.....IN for the rest.
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  13. BMW-K

    BMW-K F800GS FTW!

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    Pix...or it didn’t happen.

    :dizave
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  14. boristhebold

    boristhebold Been here awhile

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    In....a great read (sat in semi lockdown, 25 miles from Manchester, UK)
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  15. Benji13

    Benji13 Adventurer

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    I lived in Victoria Park, Manchester (near Rusholme) in the mid '80s. First on a Suzuki GN125, it got stolen, then on a Honda Superdream (nothing super about it except the star wheels). Not a pretty place at that time. Lives were tough. Many young lad were on dole. Great time there playing soccer and going pub crawling. Leeds United had the best fans in the whole England. Period.
    #35
  16. Benji13

    Benji13 Adventurer

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    We sucked. However I shall share an intimate picture of a CHICK with everybody soon.
    #36
  17. Benji13

    Benji13 Adventurer

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    WARNING!!! ACHTUNG!!! Chick photo here. Administrator please remove if deemed indecent. Her name is Alice ...





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    #37
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  18. Benji13

    Benji13 Adventurer

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    PS. Robbie's road train mishap happened sometime after day 6. So you may still see photos of his intact panniers in the following few days.

    Day 7 - 534km

    Woke up in an shabby yet overpriced tin shed room. $130 per tiny twin beds room supposedly. No alternatives as the Threeways was the only accommodation in the area and on our direction. Luckily some of their workers were using our rooms when the boss opened the door. So she kindly gave us single rooms for the same rate.

    Today we were on the famous Stuart Highway.
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    In the photo above, you can see the Garmin zumo 660 I used in this trip. It is so so. Slow and difficult to read under certain sunlight. After the trip I sold a kidney and upgraded it to a BMW NAV VI. GS riders can ride with a single kidney (just drink less coffee in Starbucks) but cannot live without a NAV.

    In most states and territories, the top speed limit is 110. However it is 130 on this road, an enjoyable speed on the big adventure bikes with cruise control, which to me is the best invention since light bulbs. It runs from Port Augusta in SA to Darwin in the NT for 2,800km. I was told that a number of years ago, stretches of the road in the NT had no speed limit and car companies like Ford tested their FPV Falcon up to 300km/h there. Sadly we came too late to the party. Well the road is pretty open and you can see miles in front. If you do not see any suspicious cars/vans around, you would be tamed to have a big twist of the throttle.

    Next we arrived at the Devil's Marble.
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    Attached Files:

    #38
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  19. Benji13

    Benji13 Adventurer

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    Day 7 cont'd
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    The wrecks would never rust out further in this hot and dry outback weather.

    The Devils Marbles is called Karlu Karlu by the aboriginals. To adventure bikers, it is like a LEGOLAND. Lots of exceptional photo angles and the dirt was glowing red in the morning sunlights. We spent ages fooling around the place until morning tea time.

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    Mark took out the satellite phone and ordered a pepperoni pizza from Domino. Just kidding... Indeed we rented the phone for the trip together as an insurance against any shitty scenarios. Of course the Murphy's Law applied: we had the phone and nothing disastrous happened... ... if you consider a broken ankle as nothing major, right?

    And the fact that we called our wives at home when nothing else worked in some ulu places, priceless.

    Back on the bikes, we arrived at Ti Tree, the population of 70 there claimed the place is the geographical centre of Australia. That means it is very far away from the shore. At least that is how people can remember this tiny place.

    During this trip, this couple bumped into us on a few occasions. They are two funny people. One can tell from the decorations on their car roof.

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    The destination for the day is Alice Springs.
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    Alice Springs is the spring (no pun intended) board for tourists to Uluru. It has a lot of aboriginals. I have never seen so many of them before. Most of them are friendly and quietly siting under the tree shade in the parks, I thought. I shall tell you more about my feeling on this people later from the view of a relatively new migrant.

    I have booked rooms in the Ibis Styles Alice Springs Oasis. A nice motel with a nice pool. Alice Springs is hot.
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    After a dip in the empty pool, we had nice steaks for dinner, and lots of beer.

    That mid night, we heard a noisy scuffle downstairs at the carpark. My mates told me that some large aboriginal families had a big fight and they drove off in a hurry. Well no fatality or major injury. That's not a too bad outcome.

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    #39
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  20. raulpereira4

    raulpereira4 n00b

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    Australia is a beautiful place for tours
    #40