Uluru or bust, the Australasian Safari and even some whales

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by whitey222, Sep 7, 2009.

  1. whitey222

    whitey222 occasionally adventurous

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,134
    Location:
    Glossodia NSW, Australia
    Howdy folks !

    This RR is all about my recent two week solo ride across Australia to tick some boxes, and catch some action at the Australasian Safari. 8,492kms in 14 days... seems like a silly thing to do now that I think about it. :lol3

    I had a SPOT personal satellite tracker with me. Here's the google maps track...

    <iframe src='http://jasonjonas.org/spot/embed.jsp?id=2290&width=800&height=600&scale=on' width='800' height='600' scrolling='auto' frameborder='0'>Embedding failed because inline frames are not supported by your browser.</iframe>
    Feel free to zoom in for a closer look. :eyes




    and now for the details...

    There had been too many weekends lost to work in recent months, and not a lot of opportunity to pursue that most noble of activities... adventure riding. To makes things worse, I'd purchased a new KTM 990S in February - just as the weekend work ramped up. By the time July rolled around, I had only managed to rack up 3,147kms on my now five month old bike. Worst of all, most of those had been done on sealed roads - commuting. It's probably a good thing that bikes can't talk!

    Enter Harald - a work colleague who emigrated from Germany two years ago. He's been busy ticking off Australia's many natural attractions, and had just returned from a trip to the Red Centre. While looking at his pics of Uluru (Ayers Rock), I casually commented that I'd never seen it. Harald was surprised to learn that someone who'd lived all of his 50 years in Australia had not managed to see one of it's best known tourist attractions. "Get your arse out there Whitey, it's wunderbar !!!"

    So, with time-in-lieu accumulated from those lost weekends, and a box that now needed to be ticked, I told the boss I was going for a 12 day ride.

    While looking at the map of the Northern Territory it was hard not to notice the Great Central Road which headed off towards the N.T./W.A border. The GCR is an unsealed road that begins just 50 kilometres from Uluru, and finishes over 1,000kms away in Laverton W.A. Hmmmm, Laverton... isn't the Australasian Safari going to be held somewhere around there this year ?

    With the possibility of seeing a few days of Safari action, it was all too hard to resist including a run down the GCR. The only problem was that it would take me a lot further from home. I'd need to spend some big days in the saddle if I was going to do it in 12 days.

    The next few weeks saw me organising supplies and spare parts for what had become a very big solo adventure ride that would incorporate 5 states. On the day of departure, I was still mothering around in the garage trying to find bits and pieces I needed. I even had to make a quick trip to the local motorcycle shop to buy a new pump (where did I leave that thing ?). It was 2PM before I got rolling. Not really a big deal, as my first destination was my weekend property at Wyangala - only four hours away.

    As usual, I took the scenic route over the Blue Mountains west of Sydney which would eventually put me on some nice unsealed roads which would take me all the way to Wyangala. Little did I know, that it had been raining west of the mountains for the last two days.

    The days are short in July and by the time I got to Trunkey Creek, the sun had already set. There was lots of water lying around indicating that there had been some heavy downfalls recently, but so far the dirt roads had been manageable. I headed into the Pennsylvania State Forest and soon found that the final leg of this ride was going to be more challenging. The wet clay surface was very slippery and my loaded pig was giving every indication it was keen to lie down. The bike was still shod with the Pirelli Scorpion tyres it came with - not very inspiring in these conditions. So, I turned around and back-tracked to Trunkey Creek and headed north on the bitumen to another dirt road which I hoped would be in better condition. It was completely dark now and as I headed up the new track, things were looking better. It was wet and due care was needed, but the surface wasn't as slippery as the last road and I was making progress. Unfortunately, about half way along this 15km long road, I started hitting some slippery sections which once again had my rear wheel wanting to visit the front wheel. I was dead keen not to let the bike fall over. I was up on the pegs in the dark powering through the sludge with eyes like saucepans. Occasionally, I walked alongside the bike when things got too tricky. I arrived at my property around 8PM physically and mentally buggered after taking over an hour to ride the last 15kms. I had kept the pig upright though, and that was a good thing.

    The brain had switched off now that the difficult riding was over, and as I flicked down the side-stand I wasn't thinking about the soft rain-soaked earth I'd elected to stop on. Have you ever had that sinking feeling when your standing on one leg - half on your fully loaded bike, half off it - summoning all your strength to pull it back upright, but not making any progress ? Eventually I conceeded defeat and let the pig drop. It had finally gotten it's way.

    After righting the beast, I retired to my caravan, poured myself a bourbon, and started looking at the maps. I needed to be in Mildura, Victoria in two days time where I had arranged to have my tyres replaced with something more dirt worthy. With the local unsealed roads in poor condition, I decided to hit the bitumen until things dried out.



    About to leave my Wyangala property. It was cold and foggy, so I was wearing my snazziest scarf...
    [​IMG]



    Fog obscures Lake Wyangala...
    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. whitey222

    whitey222 occasionally adventurous

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,134
    Location:
    Glossodia NSW, Australia
    After a brief but scenic ride to Cowra, I jumped onto the Mid-Western Highway and headed west. The sky had started to clear and I was hopeful of being able to get back on the dirt at some point and heading out to Mungo National Park in the far west of N.S.W.

    By the time I arrived in Hay several hours later, the weather had turned again and it was drizzling rain. I decided to give Mungo a miss, and leave it until the return leg - when I would at least have some decent offroad tyres. So, I slugged it out on the tar to Balranald where I spent the night in a motel.

    Next morning I was on the road early. Before leaving Sydney, I had booked the bike into 'Quick Fix Motorcycles' - the local KTM dealer in Mildura. Their parts guy, Peter Oliver, had only been too helpful over the phone, and my new rubber was waiting when I arrived at the shop. I left the bike in his care and wandered off to grab some breakfast and check out the sites.

    Breakfast out of the way, I took a stroll down to the nearby Murray River.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    After a pleasant couple of hours, I wandered back to the bike shop to find my girl waiting for me with her new shoes fitted... Dunlop 908RR on the front & Michelin Desert on the rear. :thumb

    [​IMG]
    #2
  3. whitey222

    whitey222 occasionally adventurous

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,134
    Location:
    Glossodia NSW, Australia
    It was midday when I once again hit the road. The previous night's map reading session had revealed a track which ran from Coombah Roadhouse to Yunta. Coombah Roadhouse was approx 150kms along the Silver City Hwy towards Broken Hill. I could fuel up there before hitting the dirt... finally.


    It's a dog's life at Coombah Roadhouse !
    [​IMG]


    Unfortunately, the folk in the roadhouse didn't know where the track to Yunta could be entered. They'd heard of it, and thought it was accessed via one of the local farm access roads, but were not sure which one. There were a handful of these farm access roads in the area. Maybe all of them would lead me to the Yunta track, maybe none would. It was too late in the day to be heading down the wrong road though, so I resigned myself to another session of bitumen and headed up the Silver City Hwy to Broken Hill where I arrived shortly after sunset.


    The weather had improved as I headed north, and the next morning was damn near perfect for riding motorcycles. My inability to locate the track from Coombah to Yunta had taken me out of my way to Broken Hill. I couldn't afford similar navigation hiccups if I was going to get to Laverton in time to see the Safari. So, I was away bright and early with Yunta being my first stop just a few hours away down the Barrier Hwy (yep, more tar !).


    Railway line outside Broken Hill. It'll take you right across the country if you like, but I'd rather ride.
    [​IMG]



    After a brief lunch stop at Yunta, it was a happy chappy who steered his 990 onto the dirt road which links Yunta to Arakoola Village - nearly 300kms north in the scenic Flinders Ranges.



    Shortly after leaving Yunta. Perfect weather and a gravel road stretching into the distance... Whoo Hoo !
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]



    Gotta do some work now... more later.
    #3
  4. toneout

    toneout Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    23
    Location:
    Samsula, FL
    Nice start, those are some great pics. Good to be with you from the start. :thumb
    #4
  5. lentil

    lentil King of the Dad Joke and Senior Status Legume Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    13,088
    Location:
    Not Gunnedah
    Graeme,

    Nice to see the report! Hope you enjoyed the rest of the trip past leigh creek!:wink:

    look forward to reading more!

    Regards

    Leith
    #5
  6. Megathumper

    Megathumper +

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    837
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Good start Whitey, keep it coming. I'm out that way myself in Oct.
    #6
  7. whitey222

    whitey222 occasionally adventurous

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,134
    Location:
    Glossodia NSW, Australia
    Things were going swimmingly. The mighty 990 (previously referred to as 'The Pig') was in it's natural habitat as it powered effortlessly towards Arkaroola Village. The road was in good condition and I had been cruising at a leisurely 90kph - I don't like to go much faster when I'm alone. A few hours passed and the setting sun was now right in my face, making it difficult to read the road. Keen to make Arkaroola Village by nightfall, I pushed on shielding my eyes with my left hand as best I could.

    If you're thinking this sounds like a good recipe for disaster, you're right. I didn't see the long section of loose sand until I was in it. I drop my left hand back to the handlebars, get up on the pegs, and open the throttle in an attempt to power out, but with the sun in my face, I can't see where the road is going and I ride straight off the road into the mulga scrub. I pick myself off the ground quickly - nothing busted... Phew !!! The bike is lying a short distance away and I walk over to it almost afraid to look. My left side aluminium pannier is bent badly and has come apart at one of the seams. The lid is missing and the panniers contents are scattered around the ground. One of my mirrors is broken. Aside from that, it doesn't look too bad - one of the benefits of crashing in sand I suppose. I pick the bike up, put it in neutral and hit the starter switch. The engine kicks over... another sigh of relief !

    It wasn't until I had got the bike back onto the road, that I noticed the clutch lever couldn't be closed. I start looking for leaking clutch fluid. No sign of leaks and a quick check reveals plenty of fluid in the reservoir. It must be mechanical, so I pop open the tool kit with a view to opening the clutch lever mechanism for a look. F**k, none of my Allen keys are the right size !! I'm bumbling around trying to find another tool which will do the job, when a truck approaches from the direction of Arkaroola. The truckie of course has a fine selection of Allen keys and in no time at all, my lever problem is rectified and I'm ready to roll. I thank him profusely for stopping and he heads off towards Yunta in what is now fading light.

    I decide to setup camp and give my wife a call on the Sat phone to let her know I won't be making Arkaroola tonight. She had been watching my progress on the SPOT Tracker webpage and was wondering why I had been stationery in the middle of nowhere for so long. I decide not to tell her how stupid I had been.

    Dawn breaks at the campsite near the site of my 'off'...
    [​IMG]

    Note the strategically placed reflective gear on the bike... :lol3
    [​IMG]
    #7
  8. whitey222

    whitey222 occasionally adventurous

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,134
    Location:
    Glossodia NSW, Australia
    After a bloody cold night camped in the open, I was up at dawn and soon set about bending and beating my damaged pannier back into shape. This is the best I could manage (pic taken post trip)...

    [​IMG]

    You can see the tear along the bottom seam, and the latch would no longer close properly. A couple of straps and some tape made is usable, so I shifted the heavier stuff into the other pannier and top bag and was soon loaded up again and moving towards Arkaroola.

    The Flinders Ranges loomed up ahead and looked fantastic in the early morning light.
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    #8
  9. Willwilkins

    Willwilkins Dr. Topbox

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Oddometer:
    617
    Location:
    Was Oz, now London
    Wicked wicked wicked:clap Great trip, great photos. MORE!
    #9
  10. french horn

    french horn Just Add venture

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    475
    Location:
    Bundaberg Qld. Australia
    Great pix Whitey, too bad about the ally pannier ... .That's a piece of country I'd like to see again ... thanks for sharing. :clap:clap
    #10
  11. LC8TY

    LC8TY must......find........fuel

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,367
    Location:
    Carnarvon, Australia
    Great start Whitey :thumb looking forward to more pics and story.

    Get rid of those ugly ali boxes and get a set of Steel Pony or Andy soft bags mate.
    #11
  12. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    67,826
    Gorgeous ride and pics :thumb
    :lurk
    #12
  13. whitey222

    whitey222 occasionally adventurous

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,134
    Location:
    Glossodia NSW, Australia
    Today was a great day to be riding. There was no need for me to go to Arkaroola Village anymore, so I branched off before the Arkaroola turnoff and headed for Leigh Creek. A nice pub lunch was had before riding around the corner to the local servo to fuel up. It was here that I bumped into advrider 'Lentil' a.k.a Leith, who was having a rest day following a serious amount of lollygagging on his Simpson Desert trip.

    No time for rest days for this little black duck though. I was soon heading north on the bitumen towards Lyndhurst, but first a quick visit to the Leigh Creek open cut coalmine for a sticky beek.

    Leigh Creek Coalmine... it's big !
    [​IMG]



    I used to own a Tonka Truck like this, only smaller...
    [​IMG]



    Leaving Leigh Creek behind, I rode the short distance to Lyndhurst where once again I was back on the dirt. Lyndhurst always brings back memories of the one-and-only total solar eclipse I have had the privelige to witness. That was back in December 2002 and the event brought thousands of tourists to the town which normally has an official population of 26. I'm sure the publican thought all his Christmas's had come at once.
    #13
  14. Gimme 2

    Gimme 2 wheels , with nobs

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,855
    Location:
    still looking
    What kind of camera do you use? Really crispy pics!

    Keep it comming, Sounds like a pearla of a trip!
    #14
  15. whitey222

    whitey222 occasionally adventurous

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,134
    Location:
    Glossodia NSW, Australia
    Heading now from Lyndhurst to Maree, I take the short 2km detour to view the "Ochre Cliffs". These cliffs are in fact a quarry which has been mined for thousands of years by the Aboriginees. The variously coloured ochre was used for ceremonial purposes and was traded with other Aboriginal groups.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]



    Further along the track is the abandoned town of Farina. Looking at the barren landscape, it's hard to believe that the town was once settled by wheat farmers in the late 19th century. I couldn't imagine how difficult it must have been to grow crops here. Silver and copper was mined until 1927. The 'Ghan' railway line which kept the town alive was closed in the 1980's.

    Farina once had a population of 600...
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    A little further up the track, and I reach my next camping spot. The Town of Maree was also on the Ghan Railway Line, but is now kept alive by tourism. The town is at the junction of the Oodnadatta and Birdsville Tracks. Lake Eyre is close by. So, there's never any shortage of thirsty travellers passing through.

    Remnants of the Ghan Railway in Maree...
    [​IMG]


    I setup camp in the town Caravan Park, which oddly enough doesn't have any caravans... only campers.

    Tomorrow it's the Oodnadatta Track.
    #15
  16. whitey222

    whitey222 occasionally adventurous

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,134
    Location:
    Glossodia NSW, Australia
    I've only ever used soft bags before. I thought I might give the aluminium jobbies a try with the new bike. Oops... lesson learned.
    #16
  17. whitey222

    whitey222 occasionally adventurous

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,134
    Location:
    Glossodia NSW, Australia
    G'day Leith. It's always nice to meet a fellow advrider out in the field. Next time, let's make sure there's a pub involved ! :D
    #17
  18. whitey222

    whitey222 occasionally adventurous

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,134
    Location:
    Glossodia NSW, Australia
    Canon EOS 40D
    #18
  19. whitey222

    whitey222 occasionally adventurous

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,134
    Location:
    Glossodia NSW, Australia
    Day 6 of the trip began from the town of Marree in South Australia.

    Today's destination is the town of Marla - 621kms away at the end of the Oodnadatta Track. This track is a well maintained gravel road for most of it's length, so I'm confident of being able to knock it off before nightfall.

    The turnoff to the Lake Eyre South viewing area is reached after 95kms. This is a 64km long, 24km wide salt lake. It's larger brother, Lake Eyre North is currently stealing all the limelight with inland rains earlier in the year having put some water in the normally dry lake.


    Lake Eyre South...
    [​IMG]



    As the track heads north, it skims the western the edge of the Simpson Desert and red sand dunes become the dominant feature. The track remains hard packed though.


    [​IMG]



    There are a couple of towns along the way where fuel and food can be purchased. The first of these is William Creek - population 10 !
    The tiny town is surrounded by the 24,000 square kilometre (6,000,000 acre) Anna Creek Station - the largest working cattle station on the planet.



    William Creek. The greens on the golf course aren't green!...
    [​IMG]


    Looking good for the rest of the day's ride...
    [​IMG]



    Next town along the Track is Oodnadatta. With a population of 277, this is a thriving metropolis compared to William Creek. The famous Pink Roadhouse is the place to be seen.


    The owners of the Pink Roadhouse clearly have a sense of humour...
    [​IMG]


    After a quick splash and dash in Oodnadatta, I scooted off towards today's final destination of Marla. Marla is on the Stuart Highway - a major sealed road which heads north all the way to Darwin. The Oodnadatta Track ends just outside Marla, and I arrive shortly after sunset.

    I've enjoyed today's ride. The 990 is made for this type of thing and the weather gods have once again been kind. I even got a little sunburnt on the face as I headed into the western sun.

    Tomorrow I'm back on the bitumen, following the Stuart Highway north into the Northern Territory before branching off towards Yulara. Those iconic Aussie attractions of Uluru and the Olgas are only a day's ride away.
    #19
  20. davidaus

    davidaus n00b

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2
    enjoying hearing about your trip. i became aware today of a big ride event to darwin from all parts of australia starting in may next year. heres the link http://www.freewebs.com/longride2010/ the places you show feature on this run along with many others. having driven this trip by 4wd id like to do it again on my moto guzzi norge.

    http://www.freewebs.com/longride2010/
    #20