|11-10-2011, 10:40 PM||#1|
Joined: Apr 2010
Location: One of the Burj's
Cape York & into Asia via Timor-Leste, Indonesia, etc
I’d been getting ready to go to Cape York in early August when K0diak, who was also planning on coming on that trip as well as doing the Ho Chi Minh Trail with me early next year, said “why don’t we ride our bikes to
Sounds like a plan, said I, except that it was already July and I’d just booked my mid-January flight to
Anyhow… that was it, I was in and things got hectic. I’d been working on a few modifications for the KTM 950 SER, but spinning this August two- week trip into something that was going to go over many months meant some frantic work. I’d been working on a carbon fibre dual headlight setup for a while.....
There was a bit of wiring to do too
I added the Highway Dirt Bikes setup, which has proven to be brilliant. Their switchgear is so much better than the KTM crap. At least now I have a kill switch and horn button that I can actually use.
The main issue at this stage was what to do about carrying camping gear and spares for a longer trip. My big worry was the SE’s rear sub-frame. They break if loaded up on rough roads. My eldest boy is a mechanical engineer and he convinced me that welding it wasn’t the way to go. We couldn’t find out what the 7 series alloy it is made out of was tempered to… which meant that if we welded it, we ran the risk of significantly weakening it – making it worse, with little chance of getting anything re-welded in Asia.
I decided to build a carbon fibre/kevlar rack to transfer the loading to the stronger section of the sub-frame. That and getting things like passport, carnet, medical gear, parts and the like organised meant a hectic 3 weeks. I “finished” the rack at 9pm the night before I left… then I had to pack.
Here’s the rack under construction.
Looks simple eh? To get to that stage, I had to take a mould off the original fender, make a piece out of that mould, modify the piece to this shape (sounds easy), make another mould, then make this… with the odd failure or two scattered into the mix.
At the same time, I was making a carbon/Kevlar sump guard
I almost got it finished… just had to glass in the rear mount, but it hasn’t made it onto the bike yet. It can wait until the bike gets home somewhere towards the middle of 2012.
I gave the bike a pretty decent once over… set the valve clearances (with assistance from my son Pete), did all the fluids and filters and threw on some new tyres.
We left Cairns on Aug 1st – with myself and Bernadette (soul adventurer), who I’d sailed down the Great Barrier Reef with a few years back, on her DRZ400, Peter (dkadvrider), a 23 yo Danish guy who rode his Tenere to Oz via Russia, Mongolia and Japan and Brett (dzl) from Adelaide on his ex-Army XT600.
We stopped at the bike shop in
Here’s our first river crossing – the
.... to be continued (yep.. some of these early shots have been shown in a Cape York thread, but we'll move into virgin territory pretty quickly)
|11-10-2011, 11:44 PM||#2|
Joined: Apr 2010
Location: One of the Burj's
We struck some problems on the CREB –
Including the drowning of the bike and our progress the next day, we did 7km (about 4 miles) in a 24 hour period. This was because the track is red clay and nigh on impossible when wet. 17 people were helicoptered out the next week in wet weather.
All of us had at least one spill on the CREB in the wet. Some had a lot. Bern made it down that nasty decline but came to grief on the major uphill on the other side of the valley (Big Red) and had to withdraw with a hurt shoulder. We hid her bike and she recovered it a couple of days later. I had five offs on the CREB. One from a stupid touch on the front brake (silly prick Ian)... and a couple were after I'd stopped for someone else who'd had an off. Starting off again, ending up not being able to keep both wheels in the one rut, and that's that.
We continued and diverted off the main road again to go up
We diverted again into an aboriginal community at Lockhart River, where this memorial to the US 5th Air Force is at the WW2 airfield
We stayed about 50km from there and struck some problems in the early hours of the morning with some drunk/drugged pig shooters who decided they wanted to kill people instead of pigs…. but everyone survived. Given the nature of the death threats being shouted out, I rang the cops in Cairns on the sat phone but they proved to be about as useful as second hand toilet paper. We suggested that if they sent the guys out from Lockhart River, they'd solve some problems. Nah.
Next day we headed back through the
Frenchman's is reasonably narrow and I found my HDB guards were working hard. Any tree up to about an inch and a half got brushed aside. I hit one a bit more solid than that and had ringing fingers for a while - not because the fingers got hit, just from the whack the bike took. The bauxite gravel on the track was like riding on marbles too.
My sixth, and hopefully last, off was painful. It happened on the first section of the Old Telegraph Track. Not on a difficult section... and it was one of those silly things. We'd agreed on a riding system that'd been working. We'd swap the lead every 10 km, leader to go to the rear and at intersections, everyone to group up. Pretty simple and that way, no-one gets lost, no-one ends up lying in a ditch for hours either.
Somehow it went astray at an intersection and three of us took a wrong fork. Coming back, I ended up in a dusthole on a steep section... stationary, with a spinning rear wheel.... and took a 5' cruncher at zero km/h. I ripped a groin muscle. Nothing too serious, but in the sand on these tracks, it became an issue for me. As we all know, the throttle is your best friend in sandy conditions. Trouble is, whenever the bike stepped out of line, it was like having a red hot poker stuffed into my groin. Every damn time the bike stepped out of line, I backed off. I couldn't do anything else... it took me a long time to get back into opening the throttle.
Peter showed maturity well beyond his years. He recognised my difficulties and made sure I got through. I owe him a beer or two.
Anyhow, back to the scenery. Here’s a historic boat we came across on the way up. Its at Coen.
While on the theme of old metal – here’s Peter playing in a crashed Beaufort bomber up near the tip. There was intense activity up there during WW2 – and the bush around there is littered with rusting fuel drums – many marked USN on the ends.
Here’s a couple of the lads improving the atmosphere around the camp by washing away some dust at
…. and here’s four very satisfied and relieved lads who made it to the Tip
My bike disgraced itself that day... the fuel pump shit itself 20km short of the Tip. Peter, a mechanic, came to the rescue and re-plumbed the fuel lines. By gravity feeding the carbies, I was able to use the top 15 litres in the 30 litre Safari tank. Added to that, I was carrying an 8 litre fuel bladder, so I had enough range to get me back to Cairns without any problems... but it meant I wasn't going to do the Starke Track - although the reports we were getting on it suggested I wasn't missing much.
Heading back, we did the top section of the Old Telegraph Track the hard way – from the North. Peter drowned his Tenere at Nolans – and it took a few hours to get mobile again – and it took all our oil reserves too (he drained it, put one litre in to flush the water, then drained it again – and used the last of our pooled oil). We carried the rest of the bikes through. The issue was the soft bottom – all dug up by the 4WDs.
We carried the rest of the bikes through after that
That's Peter and I in front. I'm the greybeard.
I got a bit bogged at the next creek (as did the others) - again, it was like quicksand here. L-R Brett, Peter, Gordo.
|11-10-2011, 11:49 PM||#3|
One wheel wonder...
Joined: Aug 2004
Location: Moneyapolis, MN
|11-11-2011, 03:33 AM||#5|
Joined: Apr 2010
Location: One of the Burj's
Just looking at that last photo again reminds me of what it was like up there.
When I cartwheeled down the hill on the CREB Track, I'd bashed the headlight... but it'd stood up to it. What didn't stand up to it was the screws holding the lights in. They simply vibrated out on all the corrugations... hence the tape holding the left hand light in. I eventually got some new screws in Cairns and they've been fine since.
So – the
Four people died on the roads while we were up there – two on bikes, which was a bit sobering given that there weren’t that many people there. We came across the leftover medical gear where they'd operated on one of the bike guys before airlifting him out. A silly accident from what we heard. We spoke to several people who'd been involved in the recovery ops. They went through the windscreen of their own support truck.
An extra comment re that photo of the
I’ll post some more Cape York pics here – these photos won’t be in order because I'm stuffed if I can remember the right order anyhow… but here’s some that will give you a bit of an idea about different conditions.
Here’s a typical major road shot. We avoided the “
It was always dusty. If a car with trailer went the other way, it was horrible - a truck meant panic braking and crossed fingers that no-one was too close behind - because visibility went down to about 2 metres for 20+ seconds
This was a reasonably good section of the corrugations. No-one took photos of the really bad stuff because it was too hard to slow down / stop on to take photos
Us with an old Blitz truck at Old Laura Station. L-R Bret, Peter, Ian and Gordo.
We had a good look around this billabong - one of the guys spotted a small crocodile (a couple of metres long).... but he went under and we couldn't find him again. Between us we only spotted 4 crocs in the 10 days on the Cape.
Water was an issue at times. We ran out of water on the CREB Track - having not planned on the need to camp overnight. This is the guys filling up out of a creek. When we'd filled up, I found a dead goanna (about 6' long) about 10' downstream of where we'd all just filled up.... but he'd been there a fair while.... just downstream of the road crossing.
This shot is towards the end of the CREB - not long after Bernadette had gone into the 4WD.
The view from where we had to camp on the CREB Track
Bern having a rest - she was by no means the only one. Laying in our tents, listening to the rain wasn't nice. We knew we'd be having fun when we got up.
This is one of the other guys (Peter) right about the spot where I pitch-poled my bike. The photo really doesn't show how steep it was. My rear wheel literally overtook the front one.... it just lifted off the ground and over the bars I went - I couldn't get my weight back in time. Ouch.
Bernadette is a nurse and she was watching me from the top when I crashed. She was expecting injuries because I was all over the place as I landed... but for an old bastard I jumped up reasonably well.
What doesn't show in the photos from the CREB Track is the layer of wet clay we had to deal with on and around Big Red..... which was starting to dry by the time we got out - a lightly loaded 250 would be a lot more appropriate in there - in the dry. Anything has trouble in the wet - hence the 17 evacuated by chopper the next week when it rained again.
This lot are further north - on or near the Frenchmans Track - in Iron Range NP - or at Lockhart River
Damned narrow track - it gave you virtually no wriggle room for most of the way.
The old FJ40 that some local guys had got stuck and then flattened a couple of batteries. We'd found the two guys 10 km down the road at the start of the Frenchman's Track. They were sitting there waiting for someone they knew to come along and help. We offered assistance, but they were OK and while we were crossing the river we heard them get started and go back the other way. It was funny being out in the middle of nowhere and seeing their bare footprints along that 10km of track.
Much of the track was like this, or worse
This is the fuel station in Lockhart River. No staff - you need a PIN-enabled credit card to get fuel. All locked up at night. There were plenty of kids running around near there that I'd have expected should have been at school.
Our campsite at Chilli Beach - where we encountered those drunk / drugged pig shooters at 1.30am.... and three more times up until about 3.30am. I don't mind admitting, I grabbed my machete and slept with it beside me. I had a couple of run-ins over the years with crazed druggies and having had one swinging a tomahawk at me last time is it as far as I'm concerned.
The druggies were on that road about 10 metres past our camp.
Chilli Beach itself
Local wildlife... a Dingo. One of these killed a 9 year old boy from my son's soccer team in 2001 (further south, on Fraser Island). RIP Clinton.
Somewhere on the Cape ....
It was nice to see the occasional warning sign..... but it was pretty damn rare. I hit one big dust hole - enough for me to worry about a bent rim - but I saw one as I went past it that would take down any bike that hit it - a vertical rear wall at least 18" high, with the hole filled with talc-like dust
When the creeks got to this size - and many got much bigger - we stopped and checked for holes and rocks - of which there were plenty. As a result of all the creeks, we had wet boots / feet continuously while on the Cape. Ten days of wet feet.
We saw lots and lots of hawks and eagles - and a vast number of bird species I'd never seen before. I subsequently had a few high speed, very close, encounters with hawks on the way to Darwin - I had to duck 3 at one spot - they were feeding on some of the plentiful roadkill - but in a shadow, so I didn't see them and ended up with one going over each shoulder and one over my head - at 130+kph. Think 80 mph turkey into the chest and you understand why you keep an eye open for them
One of my best sights on the Old Telegraph Track was a Red-winged Parrot that flew out of the low scrub and led me up the track for quite a ways. I'd only ever seen them in captivity before.
The slaughterhouse at Old Laura Station - now abandoned. Big verandah for shade, mesh to keep the flies out
Me, wandering over to the Old Laura Station house. Note the kidney belt - an essential item up there with all the corrugations.
The worst corrugations were the last little bit of road out to the Tip. It was horrendous. Vision blurring stuff. It was reasonable most of the time... the corrugations were pretty even, so you could get some speed up and skip over them. Get a couple of twisted ones involved though and suddenly you'd be all over the place.
I had one damn close call on a good section of corrugated road. I was doing 70kph and chuffing around a nice curve when suddenly I was in a tank slapper... with the front knobby scrubbing sideways one way then the other until I stopped. That of course ripped the damn groin muscle again and I was sorely tempted to put the bike on the boat back to Cairns for a while.
Me again.... getting wet feet (well, keeping them wet, actually)
So... there's hundreds more photos, but that gives a hint of what the Cape was like.
When I got back to Cairns, it cost a small fortune to get a fuel pump shipped in in a hurry ($550 in freight, on top of the pump cost) – in order for me to meet an agreed date getting to Mt Isa….. only to find that the person I was meeting had changed his mind and was now meeting me in
K0diak had originally been going to do the Cape trip, as had some others, including a friend from Adelaide, Phil (Balia). As the trip got closer, their plans changed and Andras (K0diak) who was going to meet me in Mt Isa, decided he'd go to Darwin rather than Mt Isa. Bugger. I guess I learnt a lesson there... don't tell the Mrs "I need it here on Monday" without adding "as long as the cost is reasonable".
I didn't get the message about going direct to Darwin until too late.... which brings up another point... telecoms. My mobile is with Vodafone. Useless. I ended up buying a Telstra phone on the Cape... and even that was limited to the major settlements. Outside them, its sat phone or nothing. The sat phone wasn't that good either... just an item of last resort really. It cost me $27 of airtime sending my first SMS on it.
The bike shop in
Check out the 3,000km air filter next to a new one.
|11-11-2011, 10:42 PM||#8|
Joined: Apr 2010
Location: One of the Burj's
Since last night, I've been sorting out lots of photos that hadn't seen the light of day... so I'll see if I can whack them in right here and keep the whole shebang in order from here on in.
So, a couple of weeks on the
Day 1, the Monday, was a relatively short leg. We started about 100km south of
Day 2 was even shorter distance wise. These shots give a bit of a flavour as to why. That red clay is like riding on grease when its wet. This is Brett on the 20 year old ex Army Yammie
A bit of a re-group after our first sliding session that morning. Note the sidestand on the KTM. Packing that on the back of the bike wore a bit thin and I eventually just leant the bike on whatever was around.
I seem to recall having an "off" somewhere like this. A 950se can be a bit of a pig if it hasn't got some momentum in places like this.
I should mention at this stage, that I'd been wearing the Matrix knee braces that Adventuremoto sells. They saved my left knee somewhere around there. I went over backwards with an almighty thump and thought I'd busted my shin bone. It was the knee brace digging in. I ended up with a bruise bigger than the palm of my hand where the force was transferred to the shin... but it saved my knee.
We eventually made it off the CREB and stayed in cabins at The Lions Den.
Day 3 was brekkie in Cooktown, then
Just one of many gentle reminders
Day 4 took us through Coen,
Some folks couldn't keep their front wheel under control.
Day 5 was back through
Plenty of creeks and the odd river that day
No point looking at it... get into it.
Plenty of pleasant spots to pull up for a while
and while some folks were getting plenty of practice at drying out their bike...
... others looked like they needed a rest
... damn that sidestand
... more Frenchman's. Note the marble-like bauxite.
Yep... you can't beat a decent fire
This is an old dugout canoe at Bramwell Station. Some drongo had cut the arse off it years back, but its good to see they've got it up off the ground
Farewelling Bramwell. There's a bit of a game they play there that if Peter wanders by, might be worth asking him about. Something to do with a horseshoe on a string... and a nail on a post. Brett and I got it on our second go, with Gordo a bit behind. Peter might like to tell us how many hundreds of goes he had.
Day 6 saw us doing the southern section of the Old Telegraph Track and just sneaking in to the northern section to go to Fruit Bat Falls for a swim. This would be a drowned Tenere by the look of it.
I'm sure the sheen in the water is a naturally occuring substance. Couldn't have been us... because no mechanic with us would treat his tools like this...
Oh, hang on
My injury had slowed us down, so we barrelled up the
My brand new Garmin Montana had shit itself on the corrugations on Day 2, so I'm glad someone knew where we were going. The scenery along the way was nice too
This is the damn innocuous looking spot where I ripped my groin muscle. Not enough momentum, a hidden hole full of dust... sat there and spun, then just dropped and twisted.
I wasn't a happy chappy.
Here's Peter, being his normal useful self... showing Brett the way through one of the creeks. We were really, really disappointed when those lovely Swiss ladies who were watching us there never caught up with us.
Another view of Fruitbat Falls
Almost an anti-climax, riding across the Jardine like this
We ended up getting to the
|11-11-2011, 11:09 PM||#9|
Joined: Apr 2010
Location: One of the Burj's
We spent a couple of days at the top end. Day 7 got us to the Tip… after my little fuel pump hiccup. We met this mob there - and IIRC they were from Newcastle and included some inmates. They were on chook chasers and had some support vehicle(s) with them.
Lovely scenery up there
We sought out the WW2 bomber wreck and started to go a bit troppo....
That wouldn't be a Katoom resting on a tree, would it?
Don't invite the US Navy to a picnic in your backyard.... they don't take their empty tinnies with them
Peter ended up getting a job as a mechanic at Bamaga – but quit on his first day and ended up heading south with us.
While he was working, the rest of us went fishing in a crappy little tinnie. It was struggling with us big buggers in it.
Heading South, we did the Northern section of the Old Telegraph Track that we’d missed on the way up. I reckon it’d be an easier run heading North. We had planned to get down to the beach at Captain Billy’s Landing… but ended up camped in the bush near the
There was a lot of burning off going on and things got a bit sureal with the smoke overhead. This is one of the few original telegraph poles that we saw on the old track
Here's Peter, taking my 950se up one of the creek exits. He did like it and I could see some cogs clicking in his mind....
There's probably too much information in this photo...
Yes... this is much nicer
Plenty of carnivorous plants around here too
.. and where would we be without an ADV salute
This is the twin falls area. Still very strange with all that smoke around
and to give the falls some perspective
Our non-campsite camp.
We did the track in and out of Captain Billy’s the next day. I had a graphic illustration of how the fatal accident happened on the way out. I’d glanced left to see if I knew any of the 4WD’ers pulled up at the lookout on the way in and when I looked back ahead… after just a couple of seconds, I discovered I was sharing the track with a 4WD belting in from the other direction. A sphincter-tightening moment and a too-close pass. This is the lookout
... and this is Captain Billy's - well worth seeing
The run south ended from the Captain Billy’s turnoff was on the
It was back to Bramwell Station for another night in the tents and the same again the next night at Musgrave Roadhouse. We went around the campground there and found a couple of guys on bikes who were travelling solo and heading North. One on a BMW 650 and the other on a DR. Very different characters, but we suggested they ride together for support.
Our final night was on the southern fringes of the
.... and that was Leg 1.
|11-12-2011, 01:04 AM||#12|
expat in the jungle
Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Bilbao, close to the fu****ng Guggenheim
ten days of wet feet is equivalent to almost all possible species of mushrooms, right?
ata screwed with this post 11-12-2011 at 02:23 AM
|11-12-2011, 01:44 AM||#13|
Joined: Oct 2009
iam just not ready to be an adult
[QUOTE=troy safari carpente;24254589]
... the XR is the greatest off road motorcycle ever constructed. There's nothing it can't do, hasn't won or will not outperform.
|11-12-2011, 04:49 AM||#14|
Joined: Apr 2010
Location: One of the Burj's
One shot I just found was this one from Musgrave Roadhouse on the way north. There was a bunch of guys there on posties... and they were doing major surgery on one of them - which eventually proved successful
So. Leg 1 done... that was Sydney-Cairns with the bike on the trailer, then Cairns - Cairns via the tip, with the various tracks that I've outlined. I had a quiet day at Bern's while the others headed off. Then it was into Cairns on the Monday morning to pick up the fuel pump and some other bits... new air filter, etc. I'd brought a half worn Mefo Super Explorer with me and I threw that on to replace the pretty stuffed Dunlop 606 I'd used on the Cape.
The bike shop in Cairns was short-staffed, so I set up on the footpath... using a "sidestand" thoughtfully provided by the Council and replaced the fuel pump and air filter, while the shop did the tyre. Yeah... I can change them, but hey!
Check out the old filter next to the new. Ughh. I'd decided not to use a pre-filter because it lowers the level that water can get in on these bikes. Given the depths we went through, I'd do the same again.
I finished up a bit late to get away and ended up checking in to the backpackers. Next morning, I was out front and the sidestand I'd had welded up on Monday morning let go again. I grabbed the first guy walking past and got him to hold the bike while I loaded it. He was an American NBA pro basketballer... and we had a good chat.
Leg 2 was a transit run from Cairns to Darwin. I headed inland just south of Cairns and then down the Kennedy Development Road, to get some dirt in, and then onto the Barkly Highway, across to the Three Ways in the Northern Territory and turned right. In my rush to get away, I'd forgotten that its cold in the middle of Oz in mid August. Yeah... I froze a tad in the mornings. I'd packed for the Cape and Asia... but the KLIM gear was pretty good.
No trip in Oz is complete without some bloody great big animal or fruit beside the road. This thing used to swim around here (Richmond) when it was an inland sea a few (or more) million years ago. The skeleton this is based on is at Harvard Uni in the US.
I kipped at Porcupine Gorge the first night. I was starting to get a bit weary and when the 6' rats started jumping across the road.
Hmmm - must get this stand fixed
I was ready to camp beside the track, but this damn good camp area popped up.
The rufous betong came around for a look too.
I'd planned on stopping at Mt Isa, but a Chinese guy suggested Cloncurry as a better option and after a cold night the previous night, I grabbed a cabin.
I ended up having a damned nice dinner with a grey nomad lady who was doing the trip she'd always wanted to do when her hubby was still alive. Had a look at the original QANTAS hangar too... at Longreach - they are now the world's oldest continually operating airline
There were a couple of nippers at the border, so I threw the Nikon to one and asked him if he knew how to take a photo. Sure... we've got one just like this... He ended up coming up to me at a service station somewhere in the Northern Territory a few days later and reminding me he'd taken the photo.
I passed a few of these on the Barkly. They were heading back to Darwin after the bi-annual exercises with the Americans at Shoalwater Bay.
Not sure that I know how to link videos here.... its a bit shaky.. done hand-held.
Some interesting mailboxes out there too.
I did about 855km on the third day and stayed about an hour north of the three ways junction. Nice fireplace and chockers with grey nomads.
I took a detour into a billabong... turn left just after the cattlegrid just north of Elliot. About 12 km in.
Nice sandy road in
Not forgetting the old corrugations again...
I took it easy, well sort of.... because the strong winds were starting to wear me down a bit. I went as far as Katherine and did a croc cruise that night. Saw plenty, of course, and fed this bloke a few bits of sausage. Only a tiddler... about 8' long.
Did the baa baa tourist thing the next day too and went sightseeing
... and tootled up the highway to Darwin. Dunno if I should tell the Darwin story....
|11-12-2011, 05:01 AM||#15|
Joined: Apr 2010
Location: One of the Burj's
One thing I did do in Darwin was fix that damned sidestand.
The bike shop sent me off to some engineering place that did mainly mining work. One of the guys said... "the boss had one of these, and has an Adventure now, so we better fix yours up eh"
I told them I wasn't interested in pretty... and I didn't want it to break again. Its a ProMoto Billet sidestand... which to be fair, isn't designed for this weight bike. Its for a 525 or something like that. That said... having a grub screw through where the weight gets taken doesn't seem too whippy to me.
A bit of extra time and I'm sure it'd be stronger and better looking... but I'm happy. Its held up with people climbing all over my bike every time I turn my back.
Oh yeah, the guy who owns the engineering business is an inmate here too.
The bike shop actually had a blinker flasher unit for the se in stock. First time ever I think I've got a part for the KTM out of shop stock! I'd been without blinkers since Day 1. My fault... I hadn't secured the flasher properly and it'd shaken off the ends of the wires. I fitted a new Mefo and a new knobby on the front, changed the oil and sorted a few other things out.
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