Great Dividing Range Australia Top to Bottom - Part 1

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by steve connelly, Dec 1, 2018.

  1. steve connelly

    steve connelly Stevo

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    INTRO

    Just over 8 years ago in 2010 my best mate Mark and I did a Gold Coast to Cape York trip on 650’s, following the Great Dividing Range and trying to do as much dirt as we could. Well, next year in Feb 2019 we are planning to do a similar trip but this time down to Tassie and back with a couple of mates joining us.

    Planning the new trip got me back onto the Adventure Rider forums to see what others had done down south. It made me realise that the time riders take to post their epic rides not only provides a great story but also provides heaps of useful information to help plan your own trip. A big shout out to @bull600 for his entertaining and helpful trip posts of Tasmania and the Alps which have been invaluable references for our next trip.

    It also got me thinking I should post our original Cape York trip photos and tracks up, which may be of use to others. I was able to find the photos and tracks and also the four email updates we sent the families. For simplicity I have posted the email updates and just inserted the photos, so it is all there.

    The Gold Coast to Cape York was our Part 1 of the Great Dividing Range Top to Bottom, and Tassie will be Part 2 to be posted sometime in March 19. So here we go!

    Attached Files:

    #1
  2. steve connelly

    steve connelly Stevo

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    #2
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  3. steve connelly

    steve connelly Stevo

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    PLANNING

    The idea for the trip came from Mark after his missus bought him the Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor Long Way Round DVD set for Christmas 2008. After Mark watched the series non stop, it became apparent that she should have gone for undies and socks, as he was obsessed. After a few weeks of receiving calls about bikes, destinations “Charlie this”, “Ewan that” I thought I better watch these DVD’s as well, and I was equally as hooked! I had done small scale trail bike riding as a kid and the DVD’s sparked my fond memories of the adventures.

    The trip took a year and a half to prepare for, we didn’t have bikes, hadn’t ridden bikes since teenagers, had no license, nothing. But bit by bit we organised ourselves, bought bikes, had a bike stolen, got licenses, bought gear, upgraded gear, test rode, and then bought different gear .. you know how it goes.

    For navigation we got hold of some Hema maps which are great as well as a free download of shonkymaps (before OpenStreetMap). We plotted 12 straight line segment routes of our planned route to the Cape and back by as much dirt as possible for running on a Garmin 60Csx which did the job admirably (I have attached actual track maps below and track stats at the end). We also bought a Gen 1 SPOT tracker for emergencies, letting the girls know we were safe each night, and letting friends and family follow our track if their lives didn’t have enough excitement.

    We modified the bikes a lot and assembled spares, nightly filter washing gear, tubes, tools etc to deal with most expected issues. I have got to say that this ADVRIDER site is gold for anyone doing anything related to adventure biking, there is usually someone who has already done it or has the answer.

    As planning got closer, the girls worked out we were fair dinkum and then the negotiations started in earnest. As negotiators, they would make the UN negotiators look like amateurs! In the end we were pretty happy that we would do 4 weeks of riding split with the families flying to Port Douglas for one week of family time and R&R (bit of a dent to our trip food and beverage budget).

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    #3
  4. steve connelly

    steve connelly Stevo

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    Attached Files:

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  5. ozcruiser

    ozcruiser Been here awhile

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    Sounds great looking forward to your ride to the cape.
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  6. steve connelly

    steve connelly Stevo

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    Progress Report 1 – issued Sat, Jul 31, 2010

    Mark and I are well into our trip, we are at Atherton having a rest day and getting the bikes serviced.

    Trip has been absolutely great so far ... but bloody hard work!

    It was bloody cold when we left Mark’s place at 6:28am but we had the gear for it, we have the gear for just about any eventuality.

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    #6
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  7. steve connelly

    steve connelly Stevo

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    We followed the bitumen to Jimna before we hit the dirt, had a burger in Hivesville, with an excellent scenic dirt run through to Mount Perry without hardly seeing another vehicle.

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    We camped at the camp ground and the guy offered us an ensuite site?? Turns out it is for the vans and he said we could sleep inside and save putting the tents up. First time I have slept in a toilet block!


    We had a reef and beef at the local for dinner as we didn’t want to start roughing it and peak too early.

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    Attached Files:

    #7
  8. steve connelly

    steve connelly Stevo

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    Next day was an early start up to Kalpower which was like a ghost town, bit scary actually, no fuel, no eats. We grabbed some fuel at Ubodo and continued up to Calliope then we had some great tracks into Malborough where we camped next to the highway.
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    On the way we had become lost in the bush somewhere between Bracewell and Mt Alma and came across this clapped out old van with a hermit living in it, rubbish everywhere, no vehicles or roads in sight. He gave us a few directional tips but when he said he needed to go back to his van to get his glasses, we didn’t know if it was going to be accompanied by a 12 gauge, so we took off.


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    Attached Files:

    #8
  9. steve connelly

    steve connelly Stevo

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    Malborough camp

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    We woke to find Mark’s bike on a lean with a flat tyre. Our first mechanical drama which we were prepared for. It must have been an omen because the rest of the day was hell.

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    #9
  10. steve connelly

    steve connelly Stevo

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    We went over to the eastern side of the highway looking for a short cut and ended up a dry lantana gully without any paddles and had to turn back after dropping the bikes a couple of times.


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    We backtracked and followed the railway up to St Laurance where we headed west up to Mt Nebo and then onto a great little quite camp spot Moonlight Dam.

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  11. steve connelly

    steve connelly Stevo

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    In the morning we thought we would try a shortcut single track .. bad call. I broke my windshield when the DR ended upside down in a rocky gully, nothing that some duct tape and oversize washers couldn't fix!


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    We continued up through Emu Plains, Collinsville heading for the Burdekin Dam, another short cut opportunity. Through a few closed gates and along ever narrowing tracks we eventually came to a very steep, and very washed out track down the side of the hill we were on. We would have got down, maybe would have slid the bikes on their side but we didn’t know if we would get back up if we had to so backtracked again for the day.

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    This road should have a dead end sign!!

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    #11
  12. steve connelly

    steve connelly Stevo

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    The washed out decent, turn back!
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    Burdekin Dam

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    We ended up in Ravenswood and shouted ourselves a few beers for the effort! A couple of old birds at the post office were telling us that they get all sorts on the Bicentennial Trail, they have seen people riding camels, horses, donkeys and gypsy’s. They often get mail forwarded to the for when they arrive. Wow I thought we were adventurers!

    We got to the local campgrounds and it was chockers. We went to pay and the old Vietnam vet said “council hasn’t given me a receipt book so I can’t charge you” …ok can argue with his logic and then the penny dropped why it was so busy.
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  13. steve connelly

    steve connelly Stevo

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    Next day was onto the Savannah way heading to Blencoe Falls via Valley of Lagoons, great run and only saw one vehicle a property owner with 170 km of frontage to look after. He was chasing some pig shooters that we didn’t see. Stopped at Bluewater Springs Roadhouse for a burger and to top up on fuel, it is a real oasis.

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    As we headed up the range the DR started spluttering a little, will have to watch that?
    #13
  14. steve connelly

    steve connelly Stevo

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    We set up camp at Blencoe Falls.
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    As luck had it, we bought along some Brazillian aged cashasa (spirit) to make caiparinhas with if we could buy some limes. At Blenco falls we came across a wild lemon tree full of lemons ... perfect! The photo with the blurry lights is the from that night , bit seedy the next day.

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    Bush lemons had a nasty effect!
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  15. steve connelly

    steve connelly Stevo

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    Our plan was to ride out out of Blencoe via the Culpa Track but there had been a bit of rain and their were trees down over greasy clay tracks, no good for the big bikes. An uplanned back track meant we were getting low on fuel and had to nurse the bikes into Mt Garnet. We then via Irvinebank and into Atherton where had booked the bikes for a service and to get my spluttering looked at.


    We are loving the trip, although the miles and miles are tiring..

    The scenery has been magnificent .. you dont realise how big and spread out the place is. We did two days on dirt roads from Mount Morgan to Atherton and passed one other vehicle each day.

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    With our plans to ride as much of the way on dirt as we can, we have been up a few dry gullys ... literally! With the loaded up bikes some of the single tracks get a bit hairy. We have both dropped the bikes, and Mark is up on me three to two at the moment.

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    The bikes have held up really well, couple of things though like Mark's rubber cush drive has melted and we are getting one sent to Weipa for us to replace. I am getting new chain and sprockets, should have listened to the mechanic's advice before we left! New rear tyres for both bikes as well, the weight and rocky dirt roads have shredded our tyres that were new five days ago.

    We have met some characters along the way like the hermit living in a clapped out van in the middle of nowhere ... he helped us find our way out though. Last night we met up with some local bikers and a local mapping guru at the Herbeton pub and swapped notes on routes to the top, very handy!

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    We have seen an almost run over every kind of animal.. roos, emus, pigs, rabbits, deer, birds, camels, horses and cows everywhere! We have the environmentally sustainable policy of eating anything that you run over :)

    Camp sites are good.. half of them free as no one really gives a shit about things like collecting camping fees. The riding is endless ...up at five each day...on the bikes and away by 6 to 6:30 and riding through until between 3 and 5 in the arvo. Dinner and a few (too many) rums ... to bed and do it all again!

    To be continued ...
    #15
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  16. steve connelly

    steve connelly Stevo

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    Progress Report 2 – issued Tue, Aug 17, 2010


    Hi again supporters.


    It has taken a while for us to get the next message out, things are pretty hectic on the trail! This one covers our journey from Atherton (previous message) to the Cape.


    Trip is going real well, seems like we have been on the road for months, so much crammed into a short time.


    We had spent an extra day at Atherton with the mechanics getting the DR attended to. After a day test ride turned out the rough running was just altitude issues and the mechanic was disappointed that I didn't want him to pull the motor out. He didn't realise that all you have to do is add fuel and air in the right proportions and away you go.


    We were happy that the delay gave us the chance to refuel our energy stocks with a KFC bucket.

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    We left with new rubber, a few dollars out of our pocket and the DR's reputation bruised.



    This leg was where we started getting into the remote country. On our spare day in Atherton we checked out the powerline route to Mareeba (as per locals advice) but taking the bikes up the steep tracks with loose rocks the size of basketballs wasn't going to be easy.

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    We decided to stick on our original route of the bicentennial trail which was great.

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    #16
  17. steve connelly

    steve connelly Stevo

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    We went via Mt Mulligan to Palmer River Goldfields and spent two days out in the wilderness. After burgers at Palmer River Roadhouse, we had to stock enough water and food and trade the rums for a cask of wine that didn't need ice. It's harsh country and hard to believe that tens of thousands of people used to live out there during the gold rush days, now there is just a few ruins and a couple of cattle stations.

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    #17
  18. steve connelly

    steve connelly Stevo

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    It was here we met two guys on pushbikes basically doing the same route we were but in reverse ... we thought we were doing it tough... they were never sure where their next feed was coming from, at least we had our chunky beef stew cans and two minute noodles.


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    We also met a guy on a Mt Mulligan station where we camped who was bankrupted and escaping from society. He was ok though because he had an old XR600 "making his own tracks" and he introduced us to ORBS (see spot of light in night photo ... zoom in for a closer look) “they are intelligent life forms whose health indicates the health of the environment around them and can only be captured on digital cameras set on 800 ISO.” We were finally feeling fully in touch with our spiritual sides and asked if we could have some of what he was having.

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    Attached Files:

    #18
  19. steve connelly

    steve connelly Stevo

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    ORBS ....

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    Next morning we went from Maytown up to Laura along the washed out old coach road. This was the most difficult leg we have had and it started with long sections of bulldust holes and then it was km after km of hills of rough rock tracks ... or steps and stairs .. it was relentless!.

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    Mark showing how much he loved this track

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    Relentless is a word we have been using a fair bit up here! We had to push the bikes up and down a couple of sections. One of the things that kept us going was seeing the tracks where the pushbike boys had come through the other way.
    #19
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  20. steve connelly

    steve connelly Stevo

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    Eventually we had to give up trying to get through that day and we made camp ... fresh assault the next day.

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    The three legged stools seemed like a great idea when we left but they were close to the end of their journey, struggling with the evening work.

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    Bush camping among the stars has been fantastic, we were contemplating what tomorrow had in store for us.
    #20