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Banjo Paterson Rides Again

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Frugal Biker, Apr 1, 2021.

  1. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    Learning to cope with the evening 'news' again is still a work in progress for me, but Banjo had politicians sorted, humour is the answer.
    And from the beasts he let escape,
    The bushmen all declare,
    Were born some creatures partly ape
    And partly native-bear.
    They’re rather few and far between,
    The race is nearly spent;
    But some of them may still be seen
    In Sydney Parliament.
    And when those legislators fight,
    And drink, and act the fool,
    Just blame it on that torrid night
    When Dacey rode the mule.

    Now where was I, about to head down the Birdsville Track. I hadn't used the fuel in the 5 litre container I'd filled up back in Windorah so I topped up the fuel tank, leaving about a litre in the container. It was 320kms to the next fuel stop at Mungeranie, so no worries. The road condition sign had been updated, good to go, well at least for the first part of the trip.

    Just a hop and a skip on a good road on a beautiful day, Marree here we come.
    Snapshot - 28.png

    There were signs warning of approaching dips, where generally the worst of the road conditions exist, either sand or rock, but overall the road was pretty good. I managed to scare myself witless a few times, not as bad as that time between Windorah and Birdsville, I think I had learnt my lesson to slow down.
    Snapshot - 29.png
    I think I dislike rocky sections more than sand, the threat of a sliced tyre is more serious. I encountered sections of both during the day, but not a problem if I had slowed before hand.
    Sometimes I think I have a guardian angel, I stopped for a rest and noticed my muffler hanging down. It had just happened because it had not yet banged on the ground and fallen off. The same thing happened on my other 1200 Sport coming down from the Hyder glacier, a design flaw in the muffler, the stainless steel work hardens and then cracks. I had 'fixed' this bike before with an ordinary hose clamp but that had suffered the same fate. As luck would have it a car pulled up, two blokes and a woman and offered some help. I had some string that would suffice but the woman found several cable ties in her handbag that was a more professional fix.
    A shoelace added a nice touch.
    Cheers, Frugal.
  2. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    I pressed on, stopping every now and again for a rest and to take in the view or something of interest, it's not every day I ride the Birdsville Track. It's not so much the view but the atmosphere, the feeling of isolation and vulnerability. But in reality just as long as I didn't do anything stupid, it was just superficial, I have water, food and shade. I had just proven that if I needed help, it was just down the road, let it come to you, not visa versa.

    It's good to see someone has a sense of humour.
    I'm still trying to figure out that one, perhaps when the water is there it's too hot? Certainly no diving.
    Stop, revive, survive.

    I eventually reached Mungeranie, re-fueled, had a beer and a pie, all top notch. I did order a Big Mac, they'll let me know when it's ready. Here I met a bloke riding a bicycle north up the track, he was an Englishman of course. There was a collection of old trucks outside, they would have been someone's pride and joy once, now they're just slowly rusting away to dust, something to look at and think about while I rested.

    I was over half way down the track, I had no intention of riding all the way to Marree in a day, just push on while the going was good.

    Cheers, Frugal.
  3. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    The bloke running Mungeranie told me there is a bit of a camp site at Cooper Creek, so I was keeping an eye out for that, I don't know if this puddle was all that's left of Cooper Creek down here. Remember back upstream near Windorah, Cooper Creek was a bit bigger.
    Snapshot - 30.png

    I can't remember seeing any signs or crossing any creek, things deteriorate when I get tired. I pushed on while light permitted, it was generally easy going, I just got to pay attention, I had covered another 120kms since Mungeranie and I had had enough for the day. I set up camp in a parking area beside the road. A couple of farmers from a nearby farm come over for a chat, they told me that Cooper Creek was back up the road a fair bit, 60kms or so, back in the last big flood in 2012 there was 30ft of water across the road, that's depth not width, amazing. Just another km down the road they told me is their Coolabah campsite, even got showers and toilet, but by this time I had set up camp, I just wanted to sleep. This is the sunrise next morning.

    I was only 80kms north of Marree, I was almost there and feeling relaxed about that. One of my rules on the road is to never let an opportunity for a good wash pass me by so I called into the Coolibah campsite. It was up a track nearly a km off the road but worth the visit.

    Back on the road I came across a sign warning of bulldust, something else to watch out for. I had heard of bulldust, it's a fine but thick dust, but I've had no experience with it. That didn't take long to fix, holy smoke!, another sphincter moment, where did that come from? People pay good money to get scared witless like that. I didn't see that one coming, like stepping on a land mine. These moments do take their toll on my state of mind, it's very tiring. Just relax, it does feel good when I let my shoulders drop, it's like lifting a brick off my brain. I meet a couple of bikers going north, they were right over on the edge of the road where it had recently been graded, and going very steady. I lift a hand to give a friendly wave, the 1'st biker didn't respond and the 2'nd rider gives a short frantic wave before quickly grabbing the bars again. Just relax folks.
    Did I say it was another beautiful day, fair dinkum the weather has been fantastic every day, I hadn't needed to put on my waterproofs once. I roll into Marree, time for breakfast.
    Snapshot - 31.png
    I can recommend their coffee and egg'n bacon rolls, very good.

    Cheers, Frugal.
    staticPort, mrsdnf, bigjohnsd and 2 others like this.
  4. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    While I was taking in the sights of Marree I was considering what my next move would be, either go up the Oodnadatta Track to Marla or chicken out and cruise south on a beautiful smooth bitumen road towards home.
    The Afghan history is on display in the main street with the Moslem Mosque.

    The camels were put out of business by the railway.
    Of course Banjo had something to say about that.

    "The opening of the railway line! -- the Governor and all!
    With flags and banners down the street, a banquet and a ball.
    Hark to 'em at the station now! They're raising cheer on cheer!
    'The man who brought the railway through -- our friend the engineer.'
    They cheer his pluck and enterprise and engineering skill!
    'Twas my old husband found the pass behind that big red hill.
    Before the engineer was born we'd settled with our stock
    Behind that great big mountain chain, a line of range and rock --
    A line that kept us starving there in weary weeks of drought,
    With ne'er a track across the range to let the cattle out.
    My contribution...
    The daily strain and pain was eased by the camel train,
    In a chain a hundred long, driven by Afghans lean and strong.

    It would have been a tough life.

    Now, even the old Ghan has had it's day, put out of business by the road trains. Not a road train but this old truck and it's driver Tom Kruse MBE put the Birdsville Track on the map.
    Snapshot - 32.png

    It was time to get back on the road so I took a look at the Oodnadatta Track.
    Snapshot - 37.png

    I hadn't gone far when the distances on the sign got to me. Perhaps if I was heading towards home I could have persevered, but I succumbed to the easy path, I turned around and headed back towards the bitumen. 'Bwark, bwark, bwark, bwaaarrk, Chicken man!'. Yeah, stuff it, I had had enough of gravel. Besides, I was now heading towards the Flinders Ranges, beautiful country.
    Cheers, Frugal.
    mrsdnf, staticPort, bigjohnsd and 2 others like this.
  5. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    Leaving Marree for Port Augusta there were a few fluffy clouds about, it was another beautiful day.
    Snapshot - 38.png
    But it didn't take long for the motorbike gods to apply some retribution for piking out on the gravel road - it started to rain - so I took it on the chin of my full faced helmet and pressed on.
    Snapshot - 44.png
    I didn't stop to put on my waterproofs, thinking that might appease the gods and sure enough it was just a short but heavy drenching. No problem, standing on my pegs intermittently for the next half hour I soon dried out.
    Snapshot - 40.png
    I like the pastel colours of the Flinders Ranges. I figured I had enough fuel to get to Port Augusta so I didn't worry about filling up when I passed through the small towns on route, small one horse towns like Parachilna.
    P1010829.JPG I met a couple in their late 50's or so riding bicycles taking a rest here at Parachilna, they had ridden from Melbourne up through the Flinders Ranges, passing through some beautiful country. Today they were on their way to Leigh Creek, another 64 kms up the road, they looked very fit indeed.
    Cheers, Frugal.
    Suncoaster, staticPort and mrsdnf like this.
  6. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    Honey, I'm home.
    Snapshot - 42.png
    Well, not quite, but this was someone's home once, in the middle of nowhere. I wonder who lived here last, and how they felt as they closed the door for the last time and walked away, or perhaps they died here and that was that. The end of an era either way. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, rust to rust.
    Just south of Hawker I passed a signpost pointing down a sealed road to Orroroo, the name was familiar, it was on my route to Broken Hill. I thought I had to go through Port Augusta to stay on sealed roads, but I was wrong, I must have misread the map. I've just checked my Hema road atlas, it's nice to know what happened. There are 2 maps for the area, on page 118 the road is shown as gravel and on page 65 it's shown as sealed.
    I like the Flinders Ranges, it's beautiful country.
    Snapshot - 43.png

    I had only one problem, it was slightly longer to Orroroo, and the low fuel light had started to blink. I stopped at the general store in Carrieton, they had fuel but they were now closed for the day. It was getting late so I was happy to stay here for the night and fill up in the morning. I read the fine print on their door and tomorrow was Saturday, and that was their day off. I was never going to pay their emergency $10 opening fee and then I remembered I still had a litre of fuel left over from Birdsville. Phew!, I made it into Orroroo in time to fill up with fuel and visit the IGA supermarket and stock up with food. A local guy directed me to a free camp site up past the hospital and I was set for the night. I even lit a campfire and boiled up some noodles.

    Next morning as I was packing up I heard someone say 'hello'. I thought I was alone but a young man had approached on the other side of the fence. His name was Mike and had driven up from Adelaide on a geo-cache hunt, I had never heard of such a thing. It's an internet game where people hide GPS beacons and players try and find them, record their find and then leave them in place for others to find. He had found this particular cache up a tree and he had the problem of getting it down to record his signature. It was out on a thin branch, I offered to film him crawling out on the branch but he figured it out in the end. The GPS beacon was attached to a retractable tape measure, all he had to do was find something to snag the loop of wire that was attached to the beacon and pull it to the ground as the tape extended. Of course there was a long thin branch at his feet with the requisite fork on the end, it had all been planned by the owner of the cache. Mike signed his name on the beacon and then let the tape retract it back up into the tree.

    Anyway, it was time to move on, today's destination was Menindee east of Broken Hill, 400 kms away. It was time to get back on Banjo's track, Menindee was the scene for quite a long poem about quite a long horse race, so I'll give you the first few verses today.

    You never heard tell of the story?
    Well, now, I can hardly believe!
    Never heard of the honour and glory
    Of Pardon, the son of Reprieve?
    But maybe you're only a Johnnie
    And don't know a horse from a hoe?
    Well, well, don't get angry, my sonny,
    But, really, a young un should know.

    They bred him out back on the "Never",
    His mother was Mameluke breed.
    To the front - and then stay there - was ever
    The root of the Mameluke creed.
    He seemed to inherit their wiry
    Strong frames - and their pluck to receive -
    As hard as a flint and as fiery
    Was Pardon, the son of Reprieve.

    We ran him at many a meeting
    At crossing and gully and town,
    And nothing could give him a beating -
    At least when our money was down.
    For weight wouldn't stop him, nor distance,
    Nor odds, though the others were fast;
    He'd race with a dogged persistence,
    And wear them all down at the last.

    At the Turon the Yattendon filly
    Led by lengths at the mile-and-a-half,
    And we all began to look silly,
    While her crowd were starting to laugh;
    But the old horse came faster and faster,
    His pluck told its tale, and his strength,
    He gained on her, caught her, and passed her,
    And won it, hands down, by a length.

    And then we swooped down on Menindie
    To run for the President's Cup;
    Oh! that's a sweet township -- a shindy
    To them is board, lodging, and sup.
    Eye-openers they are, and their system
    Is never to suffer defeat;
    It's "win, tie, or wrangle" -- to best 'em
    You must lose 'em, or else it's "dead heat".

    With gladness we thought of the morrow........

    Cheers, Frugal.
  7. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    Welcome to Covid Central
    Come on down and join the mental
    No complaints allowed
    Especially those aired aloud
    We are in for another beating
    Having another variant is just cheating
    Who wants to be a politician
    Especially those who are not a magician
    Yeah but I've heard of Ivermectin
    Studies show it reduces infectin
    How come it has not been seen
    In our ramshackle quarantine
    I've thought of buying a boat
    The only way out of here is to float
    Hands up those in the crowd
    All those who haven't been bowed
    I did think of doing a runner
    The expected lockdown would be a bummer
    I looked outside and it was raining
    So that fact proved to be refraining
    It's a four hour run to the border
    And the Harley was still not in order
    But with time on my hands it leads to strife
    I'll soon own another if I choose to strike
    But with luck it'll soon be sold
    Before my wife chucks me out in the cold, or so I'm told
  8. Frugal Biker

    Frugal Biker Adventurer

    Mar 22, 2021
    Motorbike trips are a great way to travel. I'm always meeting people, stopping for a chat and having a laugh. After saying goodbye to Mike the geo-cache hunter in Orroroo I travelled the few kms to Peterborough. On the outskirts of town there is a steam museum.

    I parked outside the supermarket next to a BMW RT9, they're a neat looking bike. Soon enough the owner turned up and we chatted bikes for an hour or more, I was in no particular hurry although I had 400 kms to go to Menindee. By this time I had been on the road for three weeks and I was most probably looking for someone to talk to. He didn't want to be photographed which is a shame because it helps with the memories.
    Anyway, I eventually hit the road and headed northeast into the outback which seems weird, but west of Broken Hill is the outback, it's dry, isolated and sparsely populated. I remember passing through small towns, maybe a hotel, a railway station, a few old houses and no shops, it was pretty depressing really, my recollection of the area had the feeling of having seen better times. But Australia is a big place and lightly populated so what can I expect. Perhaps my mental health is showing the effects of this lockdown. It's no wonder I'm thinking of buying another bike, I've got my eye on an old Harley, I hope it stays unsold until I can see it, it's winter, cold and wet and windy, so who in their right mind is going to buy a bike. Anyway it gives me happy thoughts just thinking about it, or perhaps I'm just dreaming, but I've been known to make rash decisions when I've got time on my hands. I better get on down to the shed and complete the luggage rack on the XR1200 so I'm ready to go when the restrictions are lifted.


    Cheers, Frugal.
    Bunyip1260, Suncoaster and mrsdnf like this.