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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by FLICKIT, Jul 7, 2017.
I DO love a good desert.
I'm not sure yet, I'm keen to do something but the enthusiasm isn't very high at the moment, I'm struggling to get motivated...
I was toying with the idea of heading straight up to Darwin early in the season, zigzag around up there, then make my way home via inland QLD & NSW, but I'm not sure, I have a bit of a mental block about heading up there, probably due to how much I suffered with the heat around the Gulf and Kimberley in Aug 2017, if I get up there in May-June I know it will be cooler, but I still have a bit of a "cant be bothered" feeling about it...
I've also toyed with the idea of doing a 6,000km loop from SA, west through the Gawler Ranges, across the Old Eyre Hwy, north on the Connie-sue and Sandy Blight, east on Gary Junction, Plenty, Donahue, then zigzag back south through the dirt I haven't done yet around Birdsville, Innamincka and such... I also wouldn't mind doing the French Line across the Simpson at some stage if I can time it to avoid the Finke and Big Red Bash traffic jam, maybe head one way on the French and return via the WAA...
WA is a fairly a cashed up state, the roads are generally better than the other states from what I've seen... They seem to grade the more popular outback tracks every couple of years, particularly if they lead to aboriginal communities... and the tourism dollar would be the only thing keeping a lot of outback towns afloat so they probably grade off the corrugations to keep the tourists happy and keep their money flowing through the place... tracks like this one they don't put a great deal of work/effort into, I think they just drive a grader one way and then back the other, just to smooth out the corrugations which get pretty bad at times... (I passed the grader roadcrew the next day, I'll try to find the footage of their setup, it's fairly cool)
The water tanks around the place are more for emergency use, to save lives, lots of people die in the outback because there's basically no water... There's been a stack of deaths in recent months... In WA on the sealed roads there's frequent rest-stops with water tanks, and inland on the dirt roads there's often 20L plastic water containers sitting at road junctions for emergency use, I'm not sure who checks them or fills them up...
SA/WA border to Yeo hut
492km mainly sand and hardpacked sand/clay
The night before I emptied my MSR water bladder which had sprung a leak and left it dry for a while, I then put some super-glue where it was leaking, left it a while, then smeared clear silicon sealant over the area... In the morning I filled it up from the water tank, it hasn't leaked since... I also filled a spare 2L wine bladder I had with me, and my backpack 3L bladder... I was back to having 9L of water...
The track west was generally one vehicle wide to start with, it got wider and generally better as it went west, not as overgrown as the SA side, there was some quite open sections, and since it had been graded the day before there were no corrugations or big hump in the middle, but it was very soft, I rode the smooth center section a fair bit...
In places the grader had clipped trees or branches which had fallen on the track, or been dragged onto the track, so there was quite a few obstacles to dodge..
Some sections were pretty good and open:
Some of it was quite evil, it was a chopped up sloping mix of very soft sand and bulldust, I got a bit wobbly in it at times and had a couple of little near misses:
and I met some camels: (edit: these were actually further west, west of Ilkulka where the road is better)
The camels were awesome. I did not know there were camels there. Obviously, I don’t know much about your country.
There's no shortage of them here, I saw a few herds... They were imported in the 1800's for desert exploration and as workhorses, "They were also used in the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line, and carried pipe sections for the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme". ..
With the introduction of motorised transportation in the 1920s and 1930s, some cameleers released their camels into the wild. Well suited to the arid conditions of Central Australia, these camels became the source for the large population of feral camels still existing today.
By 2008, it was feared that Central Australia's feral camel population had grown to about one million and was projected to double every 8 to 10 years. Camels are known to cause serious degradation of local environmental and cultural sites, particularly during dry conditions. A AU$19 million management program was funded in 2009, and, upon completion in 2013, the feral population was estimated to have been reduced to around 300,000.
Australia has the largest population of feral camels and the only herd of dromedary (one-humped) camels exhibiting wild behaviour in the world.
A multi-species abattoir at Caboolture in Queensland run by Meramist regularly processes feral camels, selling meat into Europe, the United States and Japan.
Live camels are occasionally exported to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Brunei, and Malaysia, where disease-free wild camels are prized as a delicacy. Australia's camels are also exported as breeding stock for Arab camel racing stables, and for use in tourist venues in places such as the United States.
It was about 160km from the border camp to ilkurlka roadhouse, the only civilization and fuel along this 1300km leg:
The roadhouse is run by and mainly services the local aboriginal community, it's apparently the most remote community in Australia, there's a little info here:
When I arrived the caretaker was on the phone and there was a couple of 4x4's over at the diesel pump, by time he got off the phone another dozen 4x4's rolled in and lined up for fuel, thankfully he decided to serve me first even though it took quite a while...
There's not much call for petrol/gasoline out here so they only have it in 44 gallon drums with a hand pump, it's in a shed about 100m away, and they only have Opal-Fuel (as with most of central Aus):
I had done 812 km (507 miles) since I left Coober pedy with 40L of fuel, I had about 5L left... so the bike had done about 23 Km/L (54.6 mpg)... It's nice to finish such a long leg and have a 100+ km reserve :)
I got 25L @ $3:30 per liter, $84 worth of fuel, so I had 30L to get me the 550-ish km to Laverton...
I didn't hang around, I paid for the fuel and hit the road again....
With the drinking water tanks there was no shortage of them around here, there was the one about 10km west of the border, and I think one 100km east of ilkurlka, 50km east, then 50km west, and maybe 100km west also... It seems they were installed by/for the Spinifex people (local aboriginals)...
50km west of ilkurlka I passed the grader crew, 2 graders each towing a trailer with shipping container living units, generators, and fuel/water tanks:
Holy Crap FLICKIT!!!
Such a cool ride report, thanks for the effort in sharing this with us.
looking forward to more
thanks for sharing, great that you're able to travel so freely across remote areas in Australia -- the same freedom is something I really enjoy about the US
You need a bunch of permits to travel through there, it's no issue getting them though, but the military prohibited area is closed at times due to missile and weapons tests, they hire the area out to other countries to run tests also, the British were testing UAV's there a while back, and the Japanese attempted to land a space probe there a few years ago, it broke up on reentry... (I set off on this leg on July 1st because the area was closed through June, this year it's closed through April)...
Woomera Prohibited Area Access Permit:
Tallaringa Conservation Park access permit:
(Has fees but this park is covered under the "Deserts Park pass" which I had for the Simpson Desert so I didn't need to get a separate one for here)
Maralinga aboriginal land access permit, and Mamungari Conservation Park camping fee:
$25 per vehicle to access, and $12 per night camping in the park..
I paid for one night camping but I ended up not staying in the park...
WA Dpt Aboriginal Affairs permit to access:
GOLDFIELDS - Anne Beadell Highway - Yamarna to Neale Junction
All these permits took less than a week to come through from memory, but they can take a lot longer, the Maralinga one they say to apply for 4 to 8 weeks before... (I applied for them all about 3 months before)
Mate I’m looking forward to when you do the CSR.
Reminds me of a line from Wayne’s World.
I’m not Worthy, I’m not Worthy.
Wow! Tasmania now?
I'm keen to do the CSR but I'm not sure I want to do that solo, I'll see what happens..
Thanks :) .. To be honest I'm just fumbling my way around, I'm a very average and cautious rider...
I think the main skill you need for doing things like this is to know your limits and keep yourself in one piece... (and have a reliable and well prepped bike)
I'm a bit bored with Tassie
Leaving ilkurlka and heading west the road was pretty good generally, I assume they maintain it to a reasonable condition because it leads to the aboriginal community...
The bike was running a bit dodgy after filling up, maybe the opal fuel in the drums was old and stale, the bike was significantly down on power and very sluggish, to make this worse a strong westerly wind picked up so I spent most the day bashing into a headwind...
About 60km west of ilkurlka there's a track that leads 10km though a soft sandy track to the wreck of a twin engine plane that crashed out here, I was keen to go in there for a look, but with the bike down on power and the head wind I was riding full throttle most the time and I was starting worry about my fuel range, I figured I better play it safe and not waste a liter doing the 20km of soft sand... Oh well, next time...
172km west was Neale Junction, the junction between the ABH and Connie-Sue: (600 miles from Coober pedy)
The day was fairly uneventful other than worrying about fuel, about half an hour before sunset I pulled in to Bishop Rileys Pulpit:
I was thinking about camping here but there was a 4x4 already camped here, the guys were drinking and one was chainsawing wood for the fire, and I wasn't feeling too sociable after bashing into the headwind all day so I decided to go 50km further to Yeo Hut which has a well and water pump...
Arriving at Yeo Hut at sunset, after a 500km almost 10 hour day (8 hours actual riding):
Yeo Outstation sitting just south of Yeo Lake. An abandoned homestead that was once surrounded by the prized sandalwood, the house itself is now maintained by the Department of Parks and Wildlife (previously the Department of Environment and Conservation), and it is open for camping. There is a great fireplace here, along with a very charming bush shower next to the original homestead. There are also some long-drop toilets.
This was a nice little spot, there was a water well with a hand pump so I could have a good wash... The hut was pretty rough, plenty of holes in the floor and walls, but I ended up camping on the floor in there because it was easier than setting up the tent... ... This place creeped me out a bit actually, just on dark I was sitting on the porch making dinner, I could hear some rustling in the grass on and off maybe 50m away, I watched and listened for a while and I'm sure I saw a person running between trees, I doubt it was an animal because there's not many out there, this put me on edge a bit and then the wind picked up later in the evening so there was tin banging and such, so I didn't sleep too well... I almost never get creeped out when camping but the thought there was someone hanging around made me uneasy...
I was wondering about the sleeping, I know I couldn’t do it! That little story will have me sleeping uneasy for a while, yes, even at home .
In remote areas I usually just ride well off the track into the middle of nowhere and get out of sight of the road, hide behind trees or dunes if I can.. I try not to camp anywhere near "communities", and I rarely camp near other people, after long days on the bike I cant really be bothered socializing, (the exception to this is when there's water available, it's nice not having to ration water for the night, have a good wash and set off the next day with full water bladders)...
I usually just set up camp, eat, then crawl into the tent and tinker on my Windows tablet, plan or review the next days route, shuffle gopro footage off memory cards if I need to free some up for the coming days, watch tv shows... I don't sleep well in a tent, I rarely get more than 5 hours sleep, I'm often up an hour before sunrise and I pack up and get moving early (another reason why I generally dont camp near others, I dont want to disturb people in the morning when I'm tinkering around making coffee and packing up)..
I've thought if it was a person out there it might have been someone from one of the "communities" living rough, it really is the middle of nowhere though... It could have been other travelers camped out in the scrub but you'd think they would have set up at the hut... I'm fairly confident it was a person but I don't know... ... The odds of something bad happening are sooo slim it's not worth worrying about (that's what I keep telling myself)
I'm not a believer, I'd have to see one up close and personal before I'd consider that an option (same with ghosts, aliens, and such)
A few years ago, not far from here I was riding along and looked up into a paddock at a roo. I had to look again and before I could pull my phone/camera it'd disappeared. Long haired, dark chocolate coloured and snub nosed, sorta like one of these, but hairier:
You never know!