This trip will take in some of Central Qld's finest trail riding and Adventure touring through the coastal ranges. 9 inmates on a 2 day ride through some of Australia's finest country, what could go wrong?
Friday morning at the crack of dawn Henry (sitdownman) the Finke desert veteran leaves Longreach in outback Qld to redevous with me (OBJ) in Barcaldine 100k's east.
Henry would be piloting the KLX400 he raced in the Finke this year.
Henry got to my place a little after 7am, so we loaded the the bikes on the truck and headed to Dysart 600k's away to meet up with Charlie and OBB.
Charlie works in the coal mines and rides a KLR650
OBB was making his own way across to Dysart as well taking in some of the Central Highlands on the way.
About 1.30pm we had all arrived at Charlies, so we headed across to Lotus creek on the dirt to meet up with Barra and McAdoo. About a 150k run.
We were now on the western side of the Conners Ranges and had to head east to meet up with the rest of the gang at St Lawerance. This is when the riding becomes a little more interesting with a few twists and turns.
A quick stop at the top of the range before we decend down to St Lawerance on the coast, this range was used to haul Copper and gold from Clermont to the port of St Lawerance back in the 1800's by Teamster wagons, the only way to slow them down was to jam logs in front of the wheels, a very steep grade, fun on a bike
This plaque sits at the top of the range marking the site of the old pub, it's on'y 13k's from St Lawerance but would have been a long day back then getting those wagons up and down, many a rum drunk here.
We hit the range and headed to our first nights stop the Sportmans arms hotel in St Lawerance, Hotel of the year in 1885
After a social gathering at the pub, and meeting the newcomers, slowxr, Arunta dreamer on the TS185, and Justin on the TT660 Italian stallion Belgarda, we assembled in the beer garden and got ready for day1. St lawerance to Retreat via Cape Palmerston.
We departed St Lawerance around 8.00am and headed for the range again, dodging the wildlife that frequents the coastal plains,wise words of wisdom in hindsight, Carnage was about to unfold.
Not even 1/2 hour into the ride the Sitdownman got up a tank slapper and high sided, Ouch! One dislocated shoulder and a bent KLX. luckily we were in mobile phone range still, an ambo was called, Charlie rode back to the top of the Range and guided them in to our location, the Slowxr kid rode Henrys KLX back to St Lawerance and was picked up later by Charlie and doubled back.
The group of 9 was now split in two 4 were in front of Henry and had no idea what was happeneing behind, but the lead rider was to wait 50k up the track as per planned. After we had sorted out our rescue of Henry and his bike Barra went on ahead to let the other 4 know what had happened, and we would catch them up at Koumala some time later. The Ambo service was top notch and they got there fairly quick after travelling some distance, the local Cop arrived and the cattle farmer who owns the land we were travelling through also turned up.
All was good and we thanked them for their support , loaded Henry aboard and said our goodbye's
The second group had lost a fair amount of time, but we had no idea what was happening up the track with the first group. They were having problems of their own! We were now back riding again and enjoying the scenery along the Collaroy road that follows the range on top.
Meanwhile up ahead the TT had a loss of power momement after crossing a cattle grid, so the bush mechanics had to go to work.
Group 2 was pretty shocked to see the rest of the blokes at a turn off up the road, they were down on time as much as us.
So we were all present and accounted for except for one! The TS185 test pilot had taken the lead well before the TT meltdown and was MIA!
We later found out after arriving at Koumala for lunch, that Craig on the TS had hit a Roo and was carrying a shoulder injury, and decided to head for home under duress. WTF! 9 had now become 7 and it was only lunch time day 1.
Justin on the TT decided it was best if he tried to catch up with his mate and make sure he get's home safe, so now it was down to 6. Time for lunch at the Koumala pub and a rethink, plan B
At lunch it was decided we still had enough time to go to the coast and check out the turquoise waters of North Queensland, the run to Cape Palmerston can be done 2 ways, a deep soft sand 2 wheel track with overhanging scrub for 20k's or up the beach at low tide. Since it was high tide the 2nd option was out, so we split into 2 groups the Old fellars with laiden bikes went to Notch point which had a realitively short sand track to navigate and the young guns hit the soft sand to the Cape.
This next section is covered by 2 seperate reports, OBB prepared this one,
Group 2 headed to Notch point through the cane fields and back roads, we came to a gate that was anything but motorbike friendly, it was like a red rag to a bull, in we went.
A short time later we ended up here.
Time was getting on and we still had another 150 k to get to our Saturday night destination the Retreat pub, we waited for the young guns return at the servo, and then headed to Retreat over the Blue Mountain road, we tried a short cut through a farm but the farmer said that the old stock route was overgrown and unused for decades. It would have been good to take a peek i suspect he was diplomatic in telling us to go FYS
However the dirt road across was a nice ride anyway, it was late in the day and a cold beer was sounding good.
The accomadation at Retreat was okay, Mining camp style rooms with TV/fridge/ Air con and a smorgasboard dinner and cooked breakfast, this would be our base camp for the next 2 nights and a chance to unload the bikes and travel light for the Trail ride that lay ahead .
One fellar was seen trying to take his bike to bed, they're a happy couple
The digs at Retreat.
Sunday day 2, the old blokes had a big brekky and the young blokes were still sleeping after a hard first day keeping up. With lightened bikes we headed for the Pioneer valley to refuel and toilet stops before we hit the Captains Crossing track, we had no idea of where we were going or what to expect, except for the 2 young guns who had rode it before. I suspect they were having a little giggle to themselves knowing what lay ahead
Maps in here: http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/parks/gre...hlands-map.pdf
Captains Crossing 70k's of trail from Mia Mia to Eungella traversing a mountain range, offically closed since last years big wet season, for 2/3rds of it we never saw one other bike or any signs of any wheel tracks, after 3 hours of dodging big ruts, logs, boulders, vertical climbs and creeks crossings we were still climbing
All up it took 4.5 hours, riding through the rainforest with hanging vines and hearing the bird calls over the engine noise was a real treat. It's a must do ride for anyone seeking a trail ride adventure.
OBB has prepared another report for this section of ride, here it is here: #218
Finally having conqured the Trail we arrived at Eungella for a hard earned lunch and cold beer, and sat back enjoyed the view from the top. Sitting there looking at the mountain range on the right we had just rode, good stuff!
I think the old blokes were felling a might tired, i know i was, so we got going again for our last leg back to base camp, we headed for the Eungella dam and had a quick stop, nice camping area and good water sking area.
Leaving the dam we followed the pipeline road, a nice twisty dirt road with lots of running water crossings, further on it started to flatten out more and got back into Cattle country.
We decided to go into Mt Britton and have a look around, an old gold town from the 1800's, interesting bit of history and well worth the stop.
Even found the odd Gold Nugget
Well it was the end of a long hard day, so we hit the road back to Retreat for another hard earned coldie, said goodbye to Slowxr and OBB, thanks for an epic ride fellars
Monday morning the rest of us headed back to Dysart said horray! I got the truck and headed over to St Lawerance to get the Sitdownman and his bent KLX, and headed for home we got back about 8.30pm. That's it ! When is the next one