Chaos in the Condamine
A shimmering silver glow illuminated the narrow valley of the Condamine Gorge, framed by imposing storm clouds and steep sided cliffs. Slithering along the muddy track, I assumed the slender tunnel of light to be an omen of safe passage. As we approached the first and reportedly most treacherous river crossing though, I realised it was more likely the reflection from a stranded 4WD’s bonnet. We were indeed heading for dark and turbulent waters.
On a sunny day, the Condamine River Road meanders through sandstone cliffs and is a pleasant ride, known for its lush surrounds and thirteen shallow crossings of the Condamine River, just down stream from where it originates on Mount Superbus. On this particular day, storms over the Christmas period had turned the usually sedate trickle into a raging torrent. Naturally this made for interesting times as the field of big bore adventurers made their way across the ominous looking crossing. Things started well enough with most riders paddling their way to the other side in one way or another and then it was time for the mighty Austrian battle ship to enter the fray. In a flick of the bars, a slippery boulder below tilted the big girl starboard (things were getting pretty nautical by this stage) as the Condamine fought to claim its first victim. Seeing the inevitable drowning, I waded back through the relentless current to lend a hand but it was too late. The 990 got sucked under by the wall of water heading its way and down she went, Ralph valiantly clinging to the bars as it bobbed below the surface.
A group of riders quickly gathered round and started dismantling the bike with the hope that it only took a little sip and not a great big gulp of the muddy water below. The airbox came up clean, which was encouraging, but unfortunately even with our pooled resources, and those of a passing 4WD, we couldn’t find a spark plug spanner that would reach into the depths of the big twin. With things looking grim, we stood the bike on its back wheel and watched as a stream of water flowed out the dual Akarapovic’s that would fill a small towns’ reservoir. It was to no avail though and with few other options, Mike graciously offered to ride back to Brisbane, collect his car and conduct an impromptu rescue mission. Legend
With time ticking away and another twelve crossings still to come, the rest of the pack soldiered on. Although the subsequent water passages were easier, they were by no means easy and this is where Perry stepped in. While I was able to wade back through and offer encouragement and a helping hand on some of the tricker crossings, Perry took the bull by the horns and rode quite a few bikes through for some very grateful riders. Tackling these kinds of depths on big bikes can be intimidating so it was good to see the riders pitch in and get the pack through to Killarney in time for a late lunch.